Man on the Street

Interesting Blogs

thinking-hats.gif 

Our group of editors like to read other blogs for ideas, style, and interesting articles by other people.

Many blogs out there in the “world” can be really scary. We found one that has been very popular within the past month called, Stuff White People Like. Just putting the link here and not posting it to the blog roll is probably all we are willing to do right now.

Have you ever seen nine people try to push each other into the bushes? It’s not a pretty site, even with glasses of Pinot Grigrio, or Merlot in hand. It’s easier with a Budweiser though…

budweiser-logo.jpg

In our opinion it is a funny and thought-provoking cultural view. Any thoughts from ya’ll?

Jim “Big Plan” Palenick At It Again (Updated)

gastonia-municipal-logo.jpg

The purpose of planning retreats by local government units, regardless of where they are held, are to express bold ideas and big visions. That purpose is OK with us, however, when those visions run over wonderful programs, spaces, or currently invested projects, it does stir the ire of our front porch visitors, neighbors, and friends.

jim-palenick.jpg    gastonia-municipal-golf-course.jpg

Jim “Big Plan” Palenick is pot-stirring big time over there in Gastown. He got the golfers upset. Not the country club set, the regular daily joes, who can still find a public space to recreate in their chosen physical activity.

“Big Plan” Jim wants to sell off the 90-acre Gastonia Municipal Golf Course because it costs the city a quarter of a million dollars each year to maintain (and staff).

According to various reports, “it’s used only by people who have an interest in golf…”. ( Observer Article, Gazette commentary )

Duh —

And baseball fields only appeal to people who have interest in baseball. Horseshoe pits only appeal to people who have an interest in horseshoe. 

We bet that it costs a pretty penny to operate the baseball fields at Martha Rivers Park (a Gastonia City facility).  To be fair, the City of Gastonia DOES allow non-residents to rent the baseball fields for fundraising tournaments and for-profit tournaments. Those events bring money, but also take money out of the town. 

What about all those underused recreation buildings? — the Adult Center on Franklin, Phillips Center, and Bradley Center. Is “Big Plan” going to review the viability and reuse options for this sites as well? Since he wants to demolish a relatively new privately financed community service structure in downtown — Salvation Army Shelter — to hid the homeless — the line can be drawn that maybe we should hide the poor kids too.

bradley-center.jpg

(Bradley Center, North Modena Street, Gastonia)

Our friends in Gastonia, bless their hearts,  had better be watchful of the new city manager. He is getting ready to hang the “For Sale” sign on the City limits. What happened to the city’s comprehensive plan?

Of course, the Gazette agrees with Mr. Palenick’s viewpoint — their opinion being that ONLY THE RICH PEOPLE should be able to play golf on their dime… “…its not like the absence of a public golf course in Gastonia would leave the golfing community high and dry. Gaston County and the surrounding area offer many PRIVATE [emphasis added] courses…”.

gazette-editorial-1-10-08.pdf

Seems like the Gazette would like to make a case for the privatization of most recreational activities – yeah, let’s talk about what private citizen’s decide to do when they don’t have the money any longer in the family to sustain the lifestyle with which they have become accustomed…THEY SELL IT TO DEVELOPERS… great advocacy by the Libertarian Mouthpiece… take away a public amenity that contributes to the quality of life.

city-of-gastonia-for-sale-1.jpg

(sorry for the flag pole – we deleted it — it wa an overzealous sports editor who is a golf fanatic — Dilbert was chosen as a more appropriate comment)

dilbert20081833540110.gif

The Little Train That Could

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

downtown-belmont-curious.jpg

new-locomotive-in-belmont.jpg

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?

Bullets hit Nichols Food Store in Belmont

 nichols-corner-of-main-and-central.jpg

Ok, so the Topix folks and the Gazette broke this story yesterday. However, on Sunday morning one of our editors was purchasing papers about 9:00 AM and overheard the police and Nichol’s staff talking about the shooting. Kinda sounded like Alice’s Restaurant type of discussion. You know, “…27 8×10 color glossies, with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each on …”, etc.

Since it happened in the walking neighborhood of our fair town, it is news, just like the vandalism that occurred this fall over in Hawthorne.

Seems that our Po-lice have themselves a real-lyfe inve-stig-a-shun a goin’. It appears that the fancy crime scene van finally got to have some work rather than bein’ parked in the shiny lot over on Chronicle Street.

Good luck officers. You broke the summer vandalism thingy. You can do this one too!

Seriously though,

We are happy that nobody was injured, and we are sorry for the Nichols folks for the damage. May the shooters were angry that they were closed for the night… who knows?

Coffee Break

coffee-break.jpg

Ahh, yes, about half of the editiorial board are not that all knowledgeable about coffee. We all know that we like it.

In Belmont, Nichols, Caravan, White’s, Jerry’s, Shirley’s, McDonald’s, and Hardees are good places for a cup or two, and conversation.

The Belmont Police hang out at Nichols. A lot of business people catch up and read papers early in the AM at McDonald’s, moms and preschool-age kids seem to have playdates there as well. People on the go, and those who have a bit less to do in the AM wander into Caravan. The high school students cruise through Jerry’s; and White’s, Hardees, and Shirley’s seem to have the senior crowd pretty much wrapped up.

You have seen us hanging out at Caravan, McDonald’s, and White’s just in the past few days.

We sure do like our coffee – even the plain old “large cup” kind…

another-cup.jpg

Belmont City Council | Candidate bios

vote.jpg

This is an update from a previously posted article from October 18.

It was posted in the Gaston/Lincoln Neighbors Section of the Observer.

Note: Candidate Dennis Boyce did not return a questionnaire.         dennis-boyce.jpg

His bio and statement are linked here.

Becky Burch     becky-burch.jpg     Age: 77  Birthplace: Shelby.

Home address: 500 Hawley Ave.

Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: GED from Cornerstone Christian School in 2002; interior decorating and design certificate from Gaston College.

Family: Husband, Harold; two adult sons.

Occupation: Retired.

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 2003-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Attend Alexander Memorial Baptist Church.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3028.

Last book read: “Refuge” by Dot Jackson.

Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Billy Graham: “Because he had a positive impact on so many people.”

Why are you running? “Encourage and promote economic growth through development that provides jobs, lower taxes and water rates; want to see a closed textile plant remodeled for a nursing home; unfinished work like in east Belmont, north Belmont and Reid Community; I am proud of the jobs I have helped create in the past four years and I have unfinished work, like the Montcross Development.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Growth; we need more city employees like police and firemen.

• Roads.

• Schools.









Irl Dixon   irl-dixon.jpg    Age: 57. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 1008 Damon Point Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in English, radio, television and motion pictures from UNC Chapel Hill.
Family: Wife, Trudy; one adult son.

Occupation: Broker-in-charge at Coldwell Banker-Black and Whisnant Properties in Belmont .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of First Presbyterian Church; past deacon and Sunday school superintendent.
How can voters contact you? Work, 704-829-7556; home, 704-825-2148; irl@carolina.rr.com.Last book read: “The Kite Runner.”Favorite movies: “Ben-Hur” and “Citizen Kane.”Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Theodore Roosevelt: “The man was amazing. He was a sickly boy who decided at an early age to challenge his mind and his body. He founded our National Park System, was shot giving a campaign speech but finished his address anyway, and after his presidency he almost died exploring an uncharted river in South America. I would like to know where he got his boundless energy.”Why are you running? “My family has lived in the Belmont area for 100 years. I want to make sure that during our current growth period the city evolves into a place my son would be happy to stay and raise his family. I don’t want to just maintain, but improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• Growth: “We just developed a land use and transportation plan. It must be given teeth and used..”• Expansion of extraterritorial jurisdiction: “Our zoning control needs to be expanded to the boundaries used in the land use plan to give us more control over the sprawling growth the county allows.”

• Buy land and build more parks and fields for our kids to use.








Charles Flowers     charlie-flowers.jpg  Age: 64. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 307 Ferrell Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Graduate of Belmont High School; associate’s degree in criminal justice from Gaston College; associate’s degree from Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute; bachelor’s degree in religion from Mid-Atlantic Bible College Seminary; master’s degrees in ministry and theology from Rock Hill Bible College.

Family: Wife Arlene; one adult son.

Occupation: Retired chief of police of Belmont Police Department .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Deacon and trustee at Unity Baptist Church; past president of Kiwanis International; Gaston County Law Enforcement Association; North Carolina Police Officers Association.

How can voters contact you? 704-363-6484; 704-825-9146.

Last book read: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Favorite movie: “Dances with Wolves.”
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Sitting Bull, leader for the Sioux Nation.Why are you running? “I love the people of Belmont. I have lived here all my life and know what Belmont means to the people. I feel that I have and can continue to represent the people of Belmont well.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking: • Growth.• Schools.• Taxes.







Ron Foulk  ron-foulk.jpg      Age: 61. Birthplace: Mount Holly, N.J.
Home address: 101 James Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: 
Bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University; master’s degree in education from UNC Charlotte.
Family: Wife, Frankie; two adult sons.

Occupation: Principal of Rankin Elementary School with Gaston County Schools.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont United Methodist Church; member of N.C. Association of Educators; member of National Educators Association; member of National Association of Elementary School Principals.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-2798.

Last book read: “The World is Flat.”


Favorite movie: No response.
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Harry Truman: “I liked his idea of `the buck stops here.’ He had a sense of responsibility and could make the tough decision.”Why are you running? “There are many challenges facing our town: rising water and sewer rates, increased taxes, loss of jobs, increased traffic and over-crowded schools, to name a few. I would like to be a part of guiding the community through the period of rapid change. I want Belmont to be a quality community.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• To be able to promote growth that enhances the community and has a positive impact on the tax base.• Budget responsibility — holding all departments accountable for being good stewards of taxpayer money.• Evaluating, maintaining and upgrading infrastructure to meet the demands of a rapidly growing community and work with community and other elected officials to address school and traffic needs.








Curtis Gaston     curtis-gaston.jpg     Age: 43. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 123 McLeod Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in fine arts from UNC Greensboro.

Family: Single.

Occupation: Filmmaker, visual artist.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont Abbey; Belmont Historical Society.

How can voters contact you? 704-968-4772;
curtisgaston@gmail.com; www.curtisgaston.com.
Last book read: “Last Night of the Earth Poems” by Charles Bukowski.

Favorite movie: “Point Break.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Charlie Chaplin. “He’s just been my all-time favorite filmmaker. I just think he’s a very interesting person.”

Why are you running? “Each resident in a community should participate with their local government in shaping public policy. I grew up in Belmont and want to preserve its small-town charm. At the same time, I believe in the overall vision our current city leaders have and will help reach their goals. I support a smart and workable moratorium on housing developments.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• Sustainability, ensuring that Belmont maintains its high quality of life and high level of service by creating long-term, resilient and flexible strategies regarding a new economic direction and strong protection from over-development.• The need to create a new city identity.• Formulating a workable plan to make Stowe Botanical Garden and Belmont Abbey College more visible and important in everyday Belmont life.


Martha Stowe  martha-stowe.jpg  Age: 55.  Birthplace: Lincolnton.
Home address: 3132 Channelview Landing.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in math and German from Wake Forest University.


Family:
Husband, Sam; three adult children.
Occupation:

Math teacher at South Point High School in Belmont.

Elected offices: None.


Religious/civic organizations: Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Belmont; education committee; Connect Gaston greenway; Keep Belmont Beautiful, Botanical Garden Board of Visitors; Belmont Housing Authority.


How can voters contact you? 704-825-2683;
marthastowe@hotmail.com.
Last book read: “Building the Bridge as you Walk on It” by Robert Quinn.

Favorite movie: “The Devil Wore Prada.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: George Washington: “I would enjoy discussing `then and now’ with regard to life and politics with him.

Why are you running? “Many residents have encouraged me to run because I received strong support from voters in the previous election. I have good people skills, negotiating skills, and have no fear to speak out for principles. My interest in managing growth in Belmont began in 1994 as a result of my participation in the forum used to design a new zoning ordinance framework.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• I will work with the county and state to ensure that local schools and roads keep up with local growth.• I will work to control and manage new growth on the Belmont peninsula.• I will work to protect and preserve our quality of life (parks, greenways, tree canopy, public recreation facilities for all ages, fire and police protection and diversify the tax base).










Richard Turner  richard-turner.jpg   Age: 45. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 315 Dogwood Lane.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School, East Mecklenburg.

Family: Wife, Marie; three children.

Occupation: Import-export broker.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: PTO board member, legislative representative, for Belmont Central Elementary.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3302; 704-685-3139, home; fax: 704-825-3302; e-mail:
richardturner@carolina.rr.com.
Last book read: “In Dubious Battle.”

Favorite movie: “The Homecoming.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Did not respond

Why are you running? “I would like to see Belmont’s growth managed better. An adequate public facilities ordinance will do this. Essentially it stipulates that a community cannot grow beyond its ability to provide services at the city (water, sewer etc.) and county level (primarily school capacity). Seek new revenue streams which do not burden the citizens of Belmont who now shoulder an excessive amount in property taxes.”


The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Managing growth to conform to a vision of what Belmont’s citizens want in their community. I intend, if elected, to pursue mechanisms to maintain Belmont’s identity and quality of life.

• Taxes: I would pursue reviews of franchise fees and the implementation of specific revenue stream such as hotel and entertainment taxes to reduce the present property tax rate.

• Developing recreation facilities for adults and youth.

8 candidates seek 3 open Belmont seats (Updated)

That’s It ? , that’s all the Observer could write?            vote.jpg 

They are not “open”, they are contested.

Is this all that we are going to get from the City Council candidates this year?

You have to buy a copy of the Thursday (10/18)Observer to get more information. To be fair, there is a bit more information from the generic questionaire that was sent to all the candidates.

becky-burch.jpg Becky Burch: “…she would encourage the development of one shuttered textile mill to be converted into a nursing home…”  and this helps the tax rate how?

“Burch said council members have the authority to ask developers to leave room for these areas, she said. They haven’t made that request yet though, she said.”  WHY haven’t the council members made those requests – YET ?

We are not making this up – these are quotes from the Charlotte Observer.

irl-dixon.jpg  Irl Dixon: “While some candidates say they are concerned about high property taxes, Dixon said the tax rate dropped last year and he expects it to do the same in the future because of the development of high-end, waterfront homes”.

Does this give credence to the term “economic-genocide” that East-enders and South Point residents are concerned about? Push out the existing homes to build McMansions along the lake, reducing visibility and accessibility. This is a concern here in this community.

charlie-flowers.jpg  Charlie Flowers:  “If re-elected, Flowers said he will push for businesses to fill the now empty textile mills”.

Too Late Charlie !  Most of the mills have been torn down or are in the planning stages to be torn down. We cite the examples of the Belmont Hosiery plant – now, called Belmont Reserve. We cite the Imperial Mill – now vacant, and its mill village called Hawthorne. We cite the Acme – now the space for development. This site even had a viable park area that the city acutally refused to use (Woodlawn) in the late 1990’s. How about what once was the Belmont Dyers, now torn down with development plans for high-end housing. Even the cotton warehouse that Stowe Mills used over on Eagle Road (a perfectly good pre-cast concrete structure) was torn down to make way for the clear-cutting that is now known as Eagle Village. Not even going to discuss in any detail the tearing down of the Eagle Mill for $500,000 unsold homes across from Belmont Central.

rfoulk.jpg  Ron Foulk: “…61-year-old political newcomer said council members have budget responsibility…”.

He’s not a newcomer — he has run for City council in at least 2 other elections. He also opposed the Amity Acres annexation into the city in the 1990’s. How can you trust someone who will be opposed to future annexations.

curtis-gaston.jpg  Curtis Gaston: “He would favor a building moratorium, especially on large subdivisions.”

Once again, the Pittenger/Duke(Crescent) property is already under design – that’s over 1,000 acres of voluntarily annexed land. The city has had jurisdictional control for over ten years on this property and until it was sold to State Senator Pittenger, nothing was done to guide its development direction.  Young Mr. Gaston needs to be more involved. He has promise but will he be committed in the long run?

stowemanorlogo.gif Martha Stowe: “…It [the land use plan] doesn’t prohibit developers, it just makes sure you’re working in tandem with developers,” she said. “As much development as we’re seeing in Belmont we’re going to have to do something other than what we have done…”

So, what are your plans and ideas?

Richard Turner:  “…The recent land-use plan lacks teeth, Turner said, and developers have been able to build as they wanted using conditional zoning. He said the city needs a public facilities ordinance that wouldn’t allow growth beyond the city’s ability to service it…”

Dennis Boyce: “Did not respond”

We hope the BannerNews and the Gazette will expand these questions.

We find it amazing that wherever you see a Burch sign in a yard, there is a Flowers sign right next to it. If it looks like a ticket (signs), sounds like a ticket (identical votes on all issues before council), it’s probably a ticket. Vote for one, get 2.  And we thought that the politics in Belmont was “non-partisan”.