Only a short walk to work awaits Belmont neighbor Chad Hutcheson after the purchase of Emporium On Main and the conversion to The String Bean Fresh Market and Deli.
Hutcheson and his wife, Katy, recently purchased and renovated the Younts home on Main Street, and not only fell in love with Belmont as residents, put their entrpreneurial spirit to work right away with this project.
More and more, the newcomers to Belmont are making immediate impacts to the community life and structure. Something we here on the Front Porch are very happy to endorse.
We continue to welcome people who will embrace the lifestyle that we have all come to adore, both a small town and accessibility to large town amenities. Chad and Katy will do well in this endeavor as have the LaVecchia family investments.
We remember the contentious debates from ’92-’96 over the costs of renovating the downtown area. The Belmont Chamber was at the time nothing more than a weak downtown merchants association. The vision of the property owners, the city bureaucracy of the day, and business tenants would not come together. Simple issues (in the view of many townfolk) such as a consolidated “look” couldn’t be agreed upon. What was agreed on however, was a public investment by the city to improve the streetscape, and THEN the property owners would renovate their facades.
A downtown development group was financed by RL Stowe Mills to assist property owners to locate, recruit, and place businesses into the vacant and struggling buildings. Remember, this is also when Belk still had a major presence, Wachovia owned their building and weren’t allowing tenants to renovate, and everything south of the tracks were quickly becoming eyesores.
After the streetscape renovations, the loss of a visionary mayor through an underhanded campaign, things stagnated by a reactionary council and leadership. The private investors continued to move along their path. A path which has brough about many changes that we are viewing today.
Good for the chamber and it’s growth, good for the downtown with a vibrant activity – we hate that parking is at a premium, but hey, walking works for most of us. Congratulations to the Hutchesons, to the Flemings, to the LaVecchias, to the Hills, and to the citizens of Belmont for patience and support of a long-term plan.
Belmont, most recently known for it’s thriving downtown and restaurants, has been an active theater town for a number of years. The Abbey Players would regularly present interesting and sometimes quirky works a couple of times per year.
Keith Taylor, the long time drama instructor at South Point HS left after the last school year to pursue greener pastures in the Triad. His replacement at South Point, Marcus Riter (prounounced, write-r), has taken the youthful thespians to new heights this school year.
Saturday night in the South Point cafeteria, the stage was set for a Dinner Theater production of Murder and Mystery. 2, one-act plays were performed around a pasta dinner catered by the Olive Garden restaurant to a sold out, SRO crowd.
The first performance, “Clue’, was a take-off of the popular whodunit game. Mr. Riter wrote and directed his young charges through a simple choreography of murder and revenge. The usual suspects of Mr. Green (played by Sarah Green), Professor Plum (Scott Stowe), Colonel Mustard (Jon Stewart), Ms. Scarlett (Laura Lemond), Ms. White (Kelsey Pate), Mrs. Peacock (Haley Bishop), and the body (Adam Kirkby), were drawn into a surprising murder, committed by who? An audience member? one of the caterers, or (gasp…) Mr. Riter’s own father!
The second play, a longer one-act play-within-a-play, called, “The Real Inspector Hound“, evoked a Twilight Zone appeal where two theater critics are drawn into a London stage play in the midst of their own personal dramas. Julianne Reeger starred in this scenario as “Moon”, a second level theater critic covering for a more expereienced reporter. Ms. Reeger ably carried an english accent throughout the production as did her competitive writer, Birdboot, played by Geoffry Brown. Ryan Howard played a somewhat clueless romeo, Simon Gascoyne, often floating around the stage. Felicity (Crystal Hannah) and Cynthia (Kirby Beal) were the objects of Simon’s “affairs”.
To make a long story short, the students pulled off a complicated plot line with energy, humor, and class. More importantly, a young crew of actors displayed their talent in a popular dinner setting. Mr. Riter is to be praised for his chops in putting together this event. As he mentioned, “if you liked it, tell everyone, if you didn’t, just be quiet and go home!”
Obviously, we liked it. The format, the staging, the actors, and the enthusiasm – all good, even after a busy day in downtown Belmont.
The Abbey Players are still around. Somewhat loosely organized, but missing longtime director, Simon Donohue. Marcus Riter could certainly try to tie the student and adult groups together, find much needed funding for both programs and keep Belmont theater supporters going to dinner and a show.
Gary Ford, current principal at Holbrook MS has been appointed by the Gaston County School board to replace retiring principal Sheri Little at South Point HS.
Ms. Little has been the principal at South Point for the past 15 years and won the Gaston County principal of the year during this tenure.
Ms. Little has been a tireless leader within an active high school program. She regularly participated in all sport activities, meets with parent groups and student groups, and has given great leadership to the staff and faculty at the high school. Her last day on the job will be June 30, but until then, she has plenty of work to complete.
The 2008 class at South Point is the largest to ever proceed to graduation with over 300 slated to receive their diplomas on Saturday, June 7.
The thriving downtown community of Belmont, North Carolina, recent subjects of a number of Gastonia Gazette articles, hosts the summer kickoff events with Friday Night Live, the Garibaldi Festival, and the annual Belmont Home tours this weekend.
Friday Night Live! kicks off with Chairmen of the Board on Main Street downtown at 6:30 PM. With an expanded “beer garden”, a strong band following, and good weather, over 4,000 people are expected to crowd the space between the railroad tracks and Myrtle/McLeod intersection. The restaurants are ready to serve and The Shack has stocked up on ice cream.
Saturday, the Belmont Police Department hosts their annual 5K run in downtown Belmont at 8:00 AM, and the Garibaldi Festival in Stowe Park begins at 11 AM.
Sunday, the Belmont Women’s Club hosts its annual tour of homes with several new homes on this year’s tour.
Let’s hope the weather stays good, and all our neighbors remain friendly and welcoming. Oh, and HAVE FUN!
The CUB video
Come see some future Olympians and welcome competitors in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Whitewater Slalom Team Trials in Belmont’s Stowe Park Wednesday, April 23, from 6:30 – 9 p.m.
About 130 competitors are in the area preparing for the trials this weekend at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The City of Belmont is sponsoring the Stowe Park party along with the Belmont Downtown Merchants Association, Gaston Travel and Tourism and The Gaston Gazette.
There’ll be live music by the band Rough Draft and Whitewater Center exhibits. The Belmont Historical Society’s Cultural Learning Center will be open during the event at 40 Catawba Street.
There’s no charge for any of the activities.