Gaston County Schools

Belmont Theater Scene Alive and Well

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.

 
During the fall semester the students performed a drama,  “Dearly Departed”, a play about a death in a southern family.

In the Spring, “Little Shop of Horrors”, a dark-comedy/musical about a flesh eating plant in a flower shop, was staged to rave reviews. Little Shop of Horrors

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.

 

Development to reshape Cramerton

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The new development called Villages at South Fork  along with any earlier plan simply called Lakewood Village will bring 1,409 “upscale” housing units to the Town of Cramerton along with a combined 170,000 square feet of commercial space over the next 5 to 7 years.

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Of course, this development impacts the whole area, and most importantly the school system and roads.

Hold on for this ride.

Gaston: No ICE detention facility

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No Doubt!

Both the papers are now reporting that a 1,500 bed federal detention center most likely will not be built in Gaston County.

We kinda wonder why our county officials had to travel to Washington “for discussions” about this project? Wouldn’t have been a bit cheaper for Sue Myrick and former Mecklenburg Sheriff, Jim Pendergraff to have visited Gaston?

 The Gazette, ever hopeful for downtown revitalization, expressed an interest for an “ala carte” project that would be less expensive.

Seems to us that the project tab of $150 million fits into “Big Plan” Palenick’s vision for Gaston — right along with the laundry list of a “conference center/hotel”, restaurants, a hidden homeless shelter, and an $18 million baseball field.

This is leaving us wondering what sort of earmarks that Ms. Myrick is planning to dangle for us as her re-election campaign gears up. Our schools who qualify for Title I funding are shrinking even when the number of poor students grows. The estimated $1.6 Billion (yes, billion) “Garden Parkway” is still an apple of David Hoyle’s eye, but without federal funding and passage of a Toll Authority from the state, that will be out of his lifetime. Maybe he and Ms. Myrick could talk – surely there is still a bit of money at the bottom of the pork barrel for good ‘ol Gaston.

   

Pittenger property plans shown

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The Observer is reporting today that the plans for the 1,100 acres below South Point HS have been shared with city planners.

Almost 3,000 new homes are planned, along with a 36-acre “regional” park, and an additonal 30-acres for an elementary school site.

It is great to see their plans, but some of the land reserved for the park and the school site are basically very difficult and expensive terrain to develop.

It is both a good news and bad news type of story. The good news is that they plan a long term build out of the project — 15 to 20 years; The bad news is that the road plan is also a bit questionable. It is relying heavily on the use of South Point Road and an unfunded “spine” road closer to the South Fork River, connecting with Armstrong Ford Road(Main Street) near Timberlake and connecting to the Garden Parkway.

We hope that this particular road is built BEFORE the proposed houses and towncenters are approved. If you think South Point Road is busy now, wait for this development to take off.

Unfortunately — well maybe fortunately — the state builds roads, Senator Pittenger has a very cozy relationship with the development firms around the state. We would not be too surprised if this “spine road” gets fastracked. As former city councilmember Irl Dixon once stated, the TIP ( transportation Improvement Program) had already designated that a road needed to be built and overlayed a road path. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan by the City of Belmont accepted this overlay, so all things considered, the road could be a go…

Hopefully, the funding will be forthcoming from the state legislature. We know that Representative Wil Neumann of Belmont is supportive, if not for re-election purposes at the very least.  

wil-neumann.jpg (Neumann)    pittenger.jpg (Pittenger)

Other good news on this project is the developer. Haden Stanziale is a recognized leader in large tract development. The project will certainly be first class. The bad news about this developer is that it contributes to the notion of economic cleansing concerns that many in-town and long-time residents have expressed.

When the property taxes on revaluation of property goes sky high two things happen. Pleople sell their property, or they can’t afford the tax bill. In this “bubble-burst” period of housing slowdown, both the resale of existing homes and new homes may help keep the tax values from rising too quickly.

We have a county commission that is very averse to raising pennies on property, but willing to hit the sales tax side for “good causes”  — this is a whole ‘nuther story completely so we won’t talk about it right now.

North Belmont Elementary students learn about air pollution

Keep Belmont Beautiful continues to serve the community through education and involvement.

kbb-sly.jpg (Gazette Photo submission by KBB)

A recent Gazette “submitted” article talked about a program delivered at North Belmont elementary school that was funded by a grant called, Planting the Seeds of Learning.  

We applaud the efforts of the small group of volunteers, all neighbors and friends, who give their time to help KBB in its education and prevention efforts throughout Belmont.

Volunteers can help, and they don’t have to wait for designated “cleanup” dates to get involved.

When walking through town, take a paper bag or a recycled plastic (ok, Walmart, yeah) bag and pick up bits of trash as you walk. You can call Keep Belmont Beautiful to report your time walking and trash-pickup efforts and receive volunteer “credit”. KBB also receives recognition from the Keep America Beautiful for the number of volunteers who become engaged in beautification efforts.

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So, how about it Belmont? Pick up a bit of trash as you gain fitness benefits by walking, and help keep this community we love clean and welcoming.

Gaston Co. to consider sales tax increase for schools

The Gaston County commissioners are planning to discuss a request by the County Schools to add a 1/4 cent sales tax to help build and maintain the school system.

This will be an interesting discussion because the residents just approved a $175 million bond referendum last November, and the schools have a multi-million dollar shortfall from the previous bond funds.

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The “no-tax-but-will-fund-silly-projects” county board of commissioners will be televised tonight for your entertainment. Of course, it will be on the non-consent portion of the agenda after the consent agenda approves over $1.7 million of money including additional “donations” to DSS.

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)