Mt. Holly

Headlines sell papers, content brings them back

Often, we are stirred to emotional response by the headlines of a “news” article, opinion page, and yes, even a blog headline.

A current article in today’s Gazette makes us chuckle a bit: “How Liquor Stores Stack Up in Gaston County”.

At first glance, without reading the article, one would think (even the simpletons who edit these pages), that we have stacks of ABC stores in our backwoods lovin’ neighborhoods.

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You could have a stack of books, a stack of boxes, or a stack of pallets, but stacking up liquor stores?

Of course it made us look — you did too if you clicked on the link or read it in the paper.

The content of the story is trying to make a case to combine all the community’s ABC boards into one (Re: Gastonia), and to point out that the smaller towns don’t know how to market their local operations. And of course, the Gastonia ABC general manager points out that people want to shop at larger, well lit stores. (Re: Gastonia –Cox Road or Long Avenue).

Well, we haven’t seen either dirty or poorly lit stores in either Cramerton or Mt. Holly. Yes, the selection of product is smaller, and as most retail outlets will demonstrate, product offerings tend to follow local consumer demand. Certain items that sell well at Cox Road might not do well or even be offered at Mt. Holly. We get a kick out of the fact that a Harris Teeter is nearby the Cox Road store, and “Always Low Prices” Food Lion is next to the Cramerton and Mt. Holly stores.

Hmmm…

Mt. Holly and Cramerton have Belmont’s business depending on which side of town you are coming from. It certainly is more convenient most of the time to shop locally.

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Good for the Gazette trying to imply that the yokels outside of Gastonia don’t know what they are doing. It certainly sold a couple of papers.

HOORAY !!! BannerNews Online Fulltime !!

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Congratulations to our local hometown paper the BannerNews on their launch of an online version of the weekly paper. The Belmont Front Porch has added your link under our column of “websites of interest” (below).

We sincerely welcome Republic Newspapers and the reporters and editors of the Belmont Banner and Mt. Holly News to the 21st century and wish them well.

As we have noted before, as subscribers and neighbors, we DO appreciate your efforts to report on the “Good News”, as former editor Dwight Frady would often comment. Your commitment to the communities is evident by this upgrade to your service.  

This particular development, after a few trial and error “semi-launches”, is particularly welcome after the Observer announced continued cutbacks to its service in Gaston County. Recently, the Observer announced that it would only publish the Gaston/Lincoln Neighbors section on Sundays.

The BannerNews, by adding the online edition will fill a small part of the weekly good news void for those people who use the internet on a regular basis. It is a great resource for our children,  former neighbors, and grandchildren who have moved away from the area.

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CaroMont, YMCA partner for healthier community

Here is a good community investment:

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CaroMont Healthcare, the for-profit management group which owns Gaston Memorial Hospital, and the Gaston County Family YMCA have partnered to offer wellness program opportunities to the communities.

Each of the YMCA branches will be hosts to a Nurse Practioner to provide health screenings, classes, and other programs as part of the overall Activate America program.

The YMCA  and CaroMont are two of the partners in the Gaston Community Health Care Commission and the Get Fit! Gaston program.

This is a good use of community reinvestment dollars and brings together two leading providers of critical need services to Gaston County.

$2 Billion in construction and payrolls and 14,000 jobs projected for Montcross by 2035

Bill Monroe of WGM Design of Charlotte addressed a crowded Belmont Chamber of Commerce function at The Haid on the campus of Belmont Abbey College tonight.

Monroe shared the vision and master plan of the Montcross project that is expected to cost over a billion dollars to construct and provide jobs for 14,000 people, with an additional economic impact of almost $1 billion by 2035. Steelwood Solutions assisted with the impact study of the overall project.

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The meeting was attended by local politicians, real estate agents, small business owners, homeowners, and “other interested parties” – namely four members of the BFP editorial staff.

The Abbey, represented by Dr. Thierfelder, Abbott Placid, Monte Monteleone, and  the college development staff welcomed the visitors and updated everyone on the recent successes of the College. Dr. Thierfelder reported that the Abbey enrollment had exceeded 1,300 students this school year. Applications for the coming year will push enrollment up to 1,600 for the fall of 2008. The goal of the college is to reach a maximum enrollment of 2,500 students in the next twenty years.

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Monroe reviewed the 17-year history of WGM Design’s relationship with the Abbey, by noting that the master plan has continually changed and evolved over the years. The partnership with the Stowe-Pharr-Parkdale was reviewed and how the Montcross Development came to be known.

He described each parcel of the plan in pretty good detail.

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Yes, Cracker Barrel is interested. Recent changes in Cracker Barrel management have caused the operation to seek the property behind the Bi-Lo instead of next to the Hampton Inn. A medical office complex is planned for that parcel, explained Monroe. But there have been managerial changes so the Abbey is just waiting to see what they will decide to pursue.

Many “national chain restaurants” have inquired about the strip of land next to Nyoshi back toward the Wal-Mart. From the drawings, it appears that 5, maybe 6 parcels for restaurants are available in this strip. One restaurant chain was insisting on a parcel along Wilkinson Boulevard, next to the Handy Lube. However, that would involve rezoning the property from Business Campus to Highway Business. One of the main battlefronts during the Wal-Mart “debate” was the zoning ordinances and ultimate process of rezoning that was predicted.

Looks like this prediction will be coming to fruition in the coming months. Monroe commented that they would be talking to city officials in the near future about this rezoning application.

Monroe gave a polite tip of the hat to former council member, Becky Burch (who wasn’t present) by confirming that a cafeteria chain had inquired about the old Harris-Teeter section of the Abbey Plaza. That confirmation allowed a fist-in-the-air celebration by none other than Dot Martin, wife of council member Charlie Martin. Seems that someone’s agendas are going to be completed. Monroe pointed out that nothing has been finalized.

Rose’s was discussed briefly. Apparently Rose’s renewed their lease and business has actually increased since Wal-Mart’s opening. Monroe described that Rose’s prices are lower than Wal-Mart’s and that has led to a resurging sales tally for the retail anchor in Abbey Plaza.

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Dunkin’ Donuts will be opening a section in the Exxon structure on the corner of Wilkinson and Park. Not a stand alone building.

He discussed the north section of the plan – the Parkdale section – the old Acme Mill village and Woodlawn Avenue area will become home to two and three story office complexes. The first is scheduled to have plans presented to city council in the first quarter of the New Year. Guess that means no park in North Belmont after all.

The far western section, the Pharr-owned area (just east of “The Slide”) will become a site for multi-family (apartments) and another nearby section needs to be re-designed after it was revealed that some of the land was once used for a landfill. Gee, anyone who has lived here for more than a few years could’ve told you what was in that area before you made pretty drawings of houses.

The section of Stowe land just west of The Oaks will house 4 and 5 story office buildings similar to the Ballantyne project and will be visible from I-85. So long green forested interstate buffers.

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Land to the Northeast of the expanded campus will become a medical park, a senior retirement community of apartments and assisted living centers. The final jewel in the plan is a section at exit #27 of 4 story office buildings. This section alone will draw $400,000,000 of investment and develop about 7,000 jobs. Monroe explained that developers and the Abbey will build a road that would traverse the area from Hwy 273 to Belmont-Mt. Holly Road. He hinted that the Gaston County Economic Development Commission could also find funding for this road.

Monroe entertained several questions from the audience. Deposed council member, Irl Dixon was concerned over the A&W property and the Nyoshi/Burger King building. Yum! Brands, Inc. holds a long-term lease of the former Long John Silver/A&W building and is still paying rent to the Benedictines.

Sindy Maxwell of the Belmont Planning & Zoning Board asked about the land area within the Belmont City limits. All but the western section in McAdenville and a small 40-acre section in Mt. Holly below the Mt. Holly water tower, Monroe responded.

He noted that one additional small strip of land east of the Arby’s in Belmont toward the river would be used for small “incubator” types of office structures. There is space for about ten small buildings in this section.

A homeowner living near the now-closed Stowe Spinning Mill was concerned about what would be replacing the Spinning Mill. Monroe said that section was not part of the project and he didn’t know what was planned.

Overall, it was a good presentation, factual and to the point. Reporters for the Gazette, Observer and Banner were represented so we should be reading their take of the meeting in a day or so…These folks were seen sidling up to the principals after the meeting concluded, so we met in the parking lot to share notes. Thought about meeting at the Holy Grounds coffee shop, “serving Starbucks products”, as Mr. Monroe described, but decided that our identities were more important than hob-knobing.

Congratulations to Ted Hall and the Belmont Chamber of Commerce for exceeding their goal of making it to 300 memberships for 2008. They will have 304, and as Chamber Board Chair Paul Lowrance noted, “the fastest growing Chamber in the Southeast”.

High school plans in motion

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New Gaston school site has not yet been identified, but it would be in east end of county

Can’t wait for this site to be identified and the choice of name, colors, mascots, and whether a soccer field will be a part of the the campus plans.

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It is too bad that the county school board and the “educated” planners do not consider more urban models of school designs. These models would build on smaller land in a vertical format. The Belmont vision of “Town Center” could be accomplished, better park and community facilities such as baseball, softball, soccer, football, and cross country courses could be assembled in a workable plan that can be used year around. Of course, the school won’t be in Belmont and the new UDO of Gaston County doesn’t really address school construction issues, but it is worth a plug to keep up discussion.

Our coffee-klatch speculation is that the site will be on the McAdenville side of Lowell north of the interstate.  There is a 260+ acre piece of property that is owned by Belmont Land & Investment. It is adjacent to Lowell Elementary school and could made accessible from either exit #22 or #23 of I-85. But again, we just speculate…

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Program on Montcross project Dec. 13

The Belmont Chamber and Belmont Abbey College are hosting a program on the 1,100-acre Montcross development project on Dec. 13.

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(Montcross Development – Wilkinson Boulevard Side)

The program, which includes networking and refreshments, is from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Abbey campus.

Project designer Bill Monroe, president of Charlotte-based WGM Designs, Inc, will speak about the project and answer questions. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Haid Ballroom with the Montcross presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Haid Theatre.

Montcross is a commercial and residential project stretching along Interstate 85 from the Catawba River to the South Fork. The plan touches four towns: Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton and McAdenville.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the property last year. Opening in December are Lowes Home Improvements, BB&T and Hampton Inn.

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As more property is developed over the next 20 to 30 years, it is estimated that 10,000 people may be employed in the project, which has been called the next Ballantyne.

Montcross is a partnership involving land owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina (founders of Belmont Abbey College), Pharr Yarns, Parkdale Mills and R.L. Stowe Mills.

There is no charge for the program, but registration is requested by email to info@belmontchamber.com or by calling 704-825-5307.

Observer article by Joe DePriest

Will Places First, Red Raider X-Girls Finish Second in Conference Championships

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Congratulations to Elyse Will and her South Point Cross Country teammates !

Ms. Will won first place in the competition at Ashbrook in a season best time of 20:48.1. East Gaston won the team competition by 6 points over 2nd place South Point.

What is interesting is that in both the boys and girls competitions, multiple soccer players appeared among the all-conference (top 15) award winners.

Listing of the results courtesy of the Gastonia Gazette:

GIRLS
Individual results
(Top 15 named all-conference)
1, Elyse Will, South Point, 20:48.1; 2, Hayley Black, East Gaston, 22:47.2; 3, Tameron Sealey, East Gaston, 23:11.2; 4, Emily McEwan, South Point, 23:31.4; 5, Cameron Sealey, East Gaston, 23:45.9; 6, Damita Ford, Hunter Huss, 23:52.4; 7, Abby Propst, North Gaston, 23:56.2; 8, Lauren Parker, South Point, 24:05.6; 9, Allison Rodriguez, Forestview, 24:13.2; 10, Kylie Payne, East Gaston, 24:15.2; 11, Anna Vermeulen, Forestview, 24:16.9; 12, Kelsey Davis, South Point, 24:31.2; 13, Janet Smith, East Gaston, 24:37.0; 14, Emily Costner, Ashbrook, 24:43.4; 15, Amanda Spence, South Point, 24:45.0; 16, Foo Matthews, Forestview, 24:53.6; 17, Becca Coley, East Gaston, 25:02.5; 18, Caroline Boyce, South Point, 25:04.7; 19, Mary Leslie Miller, Forestview, 25:06.5; 20, Courtney Huggins, Ashbrook, 25:12.5; 21, Emily Rhodes, Ashbrook, 25:13.7; 22, Hayley Connor, Ashbrook, 25:21.5; 23, Mara Teague, East Gaston, 25:22.3; 24, Erin Cockfield, Ashbrook, 25:37.6; 25, Courtney Cooper, Ashbrook, 25:40.1.
At large all-conference selection — Chance Walker, Ashbrook

Team scores
1, East Gaston, 31; 2, South Point, 37, 3, Forestview, 78; 4, Ashbrook, 96; 5, Hunter Huss, 143; 6, Crest, 157; North Gaston, no score.

BOYS
Individual results
(Top 15 named all-conference)
1, Zack Queen, Forestview, 17:42.8; 2, Jacob Englert, Forestview, 17:58.7; 3, Michael Rogers, Ashbrook, 18:26.2; 4, William Carstarphen, South Point, 18:33.0; 5, Allen Salazar, Forestview, 18;36.7; 6, Will Carter, Forestview, 18:39.8; 7, Miles Lynn, Hunter Huss, 18:46.4; 8, Logan Helsel, East Gaston, 18:52.2; 9, Brandon Rouse, Forestview, 18:57.7; 10, Jimmy Heracklis, Forestview, 19:07.6; 11, Terry Peters, Ashbrook, 19:18.3; 12, Josh McKinney, Crest, 19:22.8; 13, Jarrett Willis, Crest, 19:41.0; 14, Matthew Knight, Forestview, 19:44.6; 15, Chandler Caldwell, Forestview, 19:45.9; 16, Matthew Katsuleris, East Gaston, 19:51.9; 17, Kyle Bradley, Forestview, 19:52.9; 18, Patrick Rhyne, East Gaston, 19:54.6; 19, Alan Nolting, South Point, 19:59.5; 20, Patrick Stillwell, South Point, 20:00.2; 21, Kyle Nelson, Forestview, 20:01.6; 22, Charlie Sinclair, East Gaston, 20:03.9; 23, Jonathan Robinson, Ashbrook, 20:13.4; 24, Eric Quinn, Ashbrook, 20:14.4; 25, Nathaniel Nieminen, Ashbrook, 20:17.8.

Team scores
1, Forestview, 23; 2, Ashbrook, 77; 3, East Gaston, 87; 4, South Point, 100; 5, Crest, 104; 6, Hunter Huss, 160; North Gaston, no score.