Billy Joye

Crowded house in Gastown watches council commit millions

“Big Plan” Palenick had his vision and confirmation of at least 3 more years of job security voted in by the Gastonia City Council last night, 5-1. Even tenacious city-cheerleader/mayor Jennie raised her hand in the vote. We wondered about that, was she worried about a tie?

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In the so-called Downtown Revitalization plan, the former First Union building will be torn down to build a parking deck. That surely must be a good first step. Can’t find parking for the Thursday night summer events at the Rotary Pavilion and on the 4th of July, so it must be able to alleviate that mess. It is certainly very close to the other “Gastonia” destination hot-spots of the DS Botanical Gardens (11.51 miles), the Schiele (2 miles, ok 1.98 miles), and the always jumping Franklin Square 1 (4.51 miles).

It is really doubtful that the other voting members of the Gastonia City Council get it. Business markets develop over time. Government interventions to jump-start private investment have very mixed results. One key is the local community support through pride of the the financial committment, and “boots on the ground”. Many of the downtown property owners know that, have waited for the “free” money (i.e. your taxpayer $$) to flow their way and ultimately allow them to cash out.

We have no problem with property owners wanting to get the best deal for themselves, or for a community to “profit” by investment in the downtown areas. But when a plan “elbows” its way into the process, with little discussion and the spectre of class warfare below the surface, it becomes a fairness discussion.

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Moving the Salvation Army Shelter and administrative functions out of downtown, to “…hide your brothers and sisters…”, as Captain Stan Colbert has commented, is one way to rid the appearance of blight and depression. Ok, so 5 million privately contributed dollars later, the shelter is moved across the tracks and the homeless cross the Marietta Street bridge and hang out in front of the new downtown Microtel Inn and Convention Center?

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It is just a shame that this proposal also chooses to ignore the already committed investments that the city has made to renovate the Webb Theater and the private investment plans that are slowly turning.

A downtown investment is not a quick fix. Mr. Kirlin knows that. The city of Belmont knows that as well. Our downtown “beautification” is certainly taking on a life of its own, but remember, it was a decade ago and commitments by PRIVATE property owners to work together to make it all happen. The city just dealt with the streetscape and made an investment into the park area. The Belmont downtown development group (underwritten by Stowe Mills), and the revitalized downtown merchants association (re-formed when the chamber was struggling with membership), worked very hard to work on a mix of business types to hopefully balance a purpose to visit the downtown area.

That result is an apparently vibrant downtown at 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. Of course, that commitment also cost a visionary mayor his elected seat, and brought several more years of obstructionist cronyism before we could seriously address the need for nurturing our community soul.

Gastonia has to suffer the throes of similar tribulation – it will all work out in the end, that of which, we are hopeful.

To comment on the event last night itself:  

The Belmont Front Porch’s intrepid editors, taking pages from the political science playbooks, stationed people at the council meeting and watched the drivel unfold on television last night. The exit polls by the “watchers” definitely indicate an uprising brewing among the Gastonia electorate. As far as television is concerned, it would seem that both city council members and staff should learn to dress for the low-tech cameras that are trained on their every  utterance of  “uh”, “yeah”, “okay”, and our collective favorite,  “um”.

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Gaston College offers public speaking classes, Toastmasters International has at least two area chapters, and there are a host of community consultants that for a fee could help these elected public officials and hired staff stand before a mic and camera. Please invest your training dollars wisely if you hire or elect mumble-mouths.

Belmont PD: Purse snatchers targeting senior citizens

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Another spillover effect of having more traffic for economic development? The Walmart Effect hits the Reid neighborhood. Lincoln Street connects back to Wilkinson down by the Auto Zone near Pack Brothers. It is an easy cut-through road.

We hope that the people of our community neighborhoods can feel safe – certainly makes a case for more police wouldn’t you think?

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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