Belmont Middle School

Belmont bags Phone Books

Keep Belmont Beautiful, a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, hosted its annual phonebook recycling drive through the month of January.

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(KBB Photo)

On January 31, representatives of KBB counted almost 16,000 phone books at area schools.

Belmont Central was the top collecting school with 11,287 books, most of which were stacked neatly in the gym and in the entrance hallways to the school.

Piza parties were awarded to the winning classes in each school and top collectors will be awarded certificates and KBB t-shirts.

Top collectors this year were:

  • JB Page: Sarah Neil, 130 books; Carson O’Brien, 100 books; school total-1,418
  • North Belmont: Chance York, 365 books; Audrey Williams, 342 books; school total -2,486
  • Belmont Central: Jordan Lathe, 7,188 books; Tyler Grigg, 2,015 books; and, Lindsey Johnson, 201 books; school total -11,287
  • Belmont Middle: Yash Patel, 75 books; school total -625
  • South Point: 42 books total

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(KBB photo)

Belmont becomes Berkeley

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Belmont Middle School students, evoking memories of a past era of protests by young people, held their own rally at Stowe Park on January 15. A peaceful protest rally seeking to be heard in the town-wide discussion of behavior in the park and downtown area.

Spurred on by a growing animosity between hundreds of adolescents in the downtown area immediately after school and downtown merchants, Belmont police addressed all the parents via a letter.

The word got out that the city wanted the park emptied of young teens and that the kids were ‘banned from the park”.

As the BannerNews reported, albeit delayed by its posting on this site, the students were not “banned”, but were definitely given the message to “go elsewhere”.

Parks and Recreation opinion — set up surveillance systems to track troublemakers — not a good option.

Downtown Merchants opinion — get them out, or get them supervised — not particularly good, but better.

Belmont Police — we need more officers, we need more money — SOP response, also not productive.

Gaston County Schools’ — once the students leave our campus, they are no longer our responsibility — oooh-kaay, how productive is that?  

The kids took matters into their own hands, and, voila’, a meeting occurs on January 16.

Way to go Teens! 

We still stand by our original opinion, that all the groups need to dialogue/plan better afterschool options so that “bad apples” don’t spoil the adolescent need to “hang out” in public areas — and feel safe while growing up.

It does require the entire community to monitor. It does require individual families with children in this age group and school group to have open communication and supervision of the kids. It does require cooperation.  

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Belmont Police try to rid Stowe Park of children

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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(Davis Park photo)

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.  

  

WHAT? !!!

Permit guns in schools to stop massacres

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Yeah, that’s the title of a community columnist in today’s Charlotte Observer.

Mr. Lane is an older person, having grown up in a completely different age and time. His assertion that when researching his opinion for the above article link, that, “…What changed? When guns were readily available to students, when they were often actually inside the schools themselves, there were no killings — none! …”.

With all due respect for the Observer, offering opinions such as this person proposes, just brings out the nut-jobs and wackos from our area society.

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We already have school resource officers (county or local police officers) in most — if not all — middle schools, and every high school. We believe that “arming a responsible adult” is achieved by this practice in Gaston County already. We don’t need teachers, certified/tenured, or substitutes, packing heat in the hallways.

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The Little Train That Could

Belmont’s train got an locomotive yesterday, replacing the engine that was removed a couple of years ago.

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The placement of the engine drew a crowd to an already vibrant downtown, right at the same time as the middle school dismissal.

Dozens of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders already regularly mingle in the downtown area at the Belmont General Store and Caravan Coffee, waiting for their parents to pick them up.

This event, however, brought out city staffers, employees of the busy downtown merchants, and the chamber of commerce. Train enthusiasts, passersby, and curiousity seekers all stopped to watch the placement

Everyone was busily snapping pictures of the two large cranes that lifted the axles onto the track next to the already placed caboose and dining car. Shortly thereafter, the body of the locomotive was raised and set into place.

This should complete the little train, bringing back some interest in the train-related heritage that Garibaldi Station/Belmont holds within its history. The train station was a museum until just a few years ago. It sat empty until the upscale clothing store, Jolie, began operating.  The volunteers who ran the Train Museum had decided to close because they struggled getting volunteers to staff the facility on a regular basis.

According to the now local entreprenuer, Richard LaVecchia  — owner of several downtown properties, including Piccolo, OldStone Steakhouse, and the old Leader building (now being called, “the Rose Building” — ’cause it was owned and sold by Art Rose) — “…several projects…” are planned, “…where people can get into the locomotive and take pictures”.  

Does the completion of the little train mean the return of a destination place in downtown Belmont?

Donut Derring-Do Does Damage

This one’s too good to comment on, the Gazette article speaks for itself.

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(not really this car, but he thought it was)

We are happy that the traffic enforcement division didn’t suffer any injuries, or that any other property or personal damage occurred —

2:30 PM? geez, what do people think when they decide to fly through town…

Legion Christmas Celebration Gives Nod to Belmont Historical Society

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Friday night’s American Legion annual Christmas celebration awarded its Community Service Award to two very deserving men, Bob Brown and Jack Page.

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(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.

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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.

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