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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
(BannerNews online logo)
The BannerNews, formerly the Belmont Banner and the Mount Holly News, deserves several positive comments on the formatting and new-found energy for our “hometown” weekly.
Current BannerNews editor, Diane Turbyfill, has done an excellent job of turning around the staid, worn out look of the paper. Under the the rejuvenated leadership of the Republic Newspapers publisher, the local papers are actually enjoying a comeback of readership by each of the owned publications.
As in the past, locally submitted articles can be published, however the BannerNews has improved its own reporting of activities and events in the Belmont and Mt. Holly area.
There seems to be a good balance of attention given to both communities. The number of column inches devoted to “news” in each of Gaston Counties largest satellite cities often is determined by which town makes a bigger splash each week county-wide.
The once frequently moved office of the BannerNews, has been stable at its present location, 132 North Main Street (that’s in Belmont, for you Mt. Holly readers –nahny nahny boo boo), now for several years. This has helped its own visibility and has contributed to the renewed vitality of the downtown community. Yup, one EDC win for us!
We don’t understand the recent reassignment of young reporter, Thomas Lark, off the local sports beat and giving the responsibilities to Jim Heffner. The shin kick to Heffner comes from his obvious “over-love” of the old school traditions of pointyball, roundball, and gloveball, and lack of knowledge of all the other opportunities given to people of all ages within the athletic arena.
Apparently, the BannerNews will have to continue to accept locally submitted articles on things like softball, volleyball, wrestling, soccer, golf, cross country, track and field, and yes, even ultimate frisbee.
We are always a willing to give props when deserved: the BannerNews is a wonderful hometown weekly paper that a lot of people seek each week.
It is technically published on Thursdays, however, you can find newly issued copies in the stand at the office after 2 PM on Wednesdays and in the various boxes around town shortly thereafter.
To submit articles, you can write them out and take to the office, or email the editor, Diane Turbyfill at email@example.com . Sports articles can go to Jim Heffner at firstname.lastname@example.org . Local reporters are Thomas Lark and Tara Manjarres. You guessed it, their respective email addresses are email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org .