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.
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.
Gary Ford, current principal at Holbrook MS has been appointed by the Gaston County School board to replace retiring principal Sheri Little at South Point HS.
Ms. Little has been the principal at South Point for the past 15 years and won the Gaston County principal of the year during this tenure.
Ms. Little has been a tireless leader within an active high school program. She regularly participated in all sport activities, meets with parent groups and student groups, and has given great leadership to the staff and faculty at the high school. Her last day on the job will be June 30, but until then, she has plenty of work to complete.
The 2008 class at South Point is the largest to ever proceed to graduation with over 300 slated to receive their diplomas on Saturday, June 7.
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.
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.
New Montcross Area Chamber member, Stowe Pointe, invites fellow members and friends to a catered lunch, prize giveaways, a ribbon-cutting and tours of the newly decorated Winslow II model on Tuesday, March 4, from 11 AM until 2 PM
(Lennar Homes rendition)
Stowe Pointe is a Lennar Homes community at 405 Stowe Road, which is off South Point Road, just south of South Point High School. Homes are 4 and 5 bedroom, from 3,042 to 3,735 square feet and priced from the $270s.
The Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place about noon. RSVP is
requested at 704-258-8290. More information on Stowe Pointe is available at www.lennar.com
The Belmont city council, fresh off of a planning retreat, began addressing some of the goals and directions right off the bat at last night’s February meeting.
City manager, Barry Webb, reviewed the city’s financial statements and audit report for the council. The council listened to a presentation by two students from the Mayor’s Youth Council of Gastonia about starting a similar program here in Belmont. The council seemed receptive and accepted an invitation to attend one of their meetings.
During the council work session which immediately precedes the council meeting, the city manager reviewed items from the consent agenda and what needed to be discussed during the meeting. The city council members receive a bound book with all the business items for the meeting. That book is open for review by the public usually a day or two prior to the council meetings – a recent development.
Public comments last night came from residents along Lower Armstrong Ford Road concerned over th annexation of development which had received zoning and construction approval by the county. One man, who lives in Misty Waters and had moved here from California, was concerned over the Town Center concept and the impact on the overall infrastructure. He listed concerns of worries over multi-family housing, road widening, and traffic flow.
Two business owners, spoke about the impact of water restrictions on their businesses and asked that council members seek some sort of consistent agreement across communities. Council appeared to agree with the assertion that landscaping businesses face huge odds with differing interpretations of what cities are doing to respond to the drought conditions.
Fire Chief Altice presented a self-described “brag-book” to members of council with pictures and charts of all the things the fire department had done through the year. Maybe the book could be displayed at the City Hall desk, chief? You may present to council, but the voters do put them in that position. Altice noted some commentary he had with an elderly citizen about where the grant monies come from on a recent grant that the department had received. His comment to the voter, “if we don’t get it here, someone else will”. While true, was this not a bit flip in the process?
Federal grants and earmarks are the people’s money coming home, so to speak, and in this case it is money that has been well-used and beneficial to the department. We hope council gives very good oversight to the submitted grants. There have been instances in other communities where equipment garnered through grants (matching or otherwise) actually just sit unused. Please don’t let that happen here.
The annexing of the wraparound property near the intersection of South Point Road and Lower Armstrong was continued by council. The developers had withdrawn the request last month as well.
The former Leeper property at the waterfront of the South Fork and Lower Armstrong Road bridge was voluntarily annexed into the city. There will be roughly 30-35, 1-acre lots with million dollar plus homes built in this development, under a low density zoning.
Council authorized up to $50,000 to repair Amanda Lane over in Pinsto Forest as a result of a contractor busting through an 8″ water main. Maybe that is why our water use was so high that week.
Council discussed and approved a $27,000 emergency water interconnect construction with Mount Holly to be located in North Belmont. This would be used in times of emergency.
The members of the city council discussed the manager’s summary of the planning retreat held at the US National Whitewater Center a couple of weekends ago. New members, Ron Foulk and Martha Stowe, both had agendas that appear to be high on the goal list. Foulk would like to see a 3-5 year listing of Capital Improvement Projects and how they would impact the future budgets, Stowe would like to see more accountability in the USNWC relationship. They discussed the committee structure, touching on a Watershed/stormwater panel, tree ordinances, and training.
What council meeting would be complete without personal interests across the board, under the ol’ “other business” portion of the meeting? Really, in year’s past, this would be where items would be pushed through when the public and media had long left the room. Under this mayor, at least it is tempered by “concerns” and reports/announcements rather than motions and action.
Last night it was the on-going and close to resolution saga of lights in the mature upscale community of Glenmere. They may just be close to getting streetlights, getting the right color, and right style.
The mayor commented that the speed of retreat did not allow for a lot of goals to be more specific and that there would be a lot of work necessary to be completed. Some items mentioned were: the on-going need to update zoning ordinances to meet the Comprehensive Land Use Plan goals; open space requirements; proper alignment of tree ordinance language and application; and, an adequate public facilities ordinance.
He also discussed the need for an Occupancy Tax now that Belmont has legitimate hotels being built in the community. The manager stated that a committee, or board needed to be established to provide oversight of the process.
Looks like a busy agenda for the council this year. It is always good to see a crowded chamber.
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (DSBG) are by far the coolest piece of the Gaston County sites to visit. Over time, the Gardens will be larger and more complete — there is a 40-year Master Plan for the site — world class by anyone’s standards. This was a privately funded project without government “partnership”. The late Daniel Stowe kick started and endowed the development of the Gardens with a donation of land and $14 million in the early 1990’s. All other development has been through private contributions and sponsorship.
The unique destination sites that now border the City of Belmont are the US National Whitewater Center to the east (just over the river north of the I-85 weigh station) and the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. Along with historical sites located throughout the county, Gaston is blessed with tourism resources that can rival many pleaces.
Good luck to the folks of the community who develop and market these facilities. Belmont certainly has taken a lead when it comes to developing intriquing places to visit.
(Red Imperial Bromliad – one of 2,000 rare and exotic plant at DSBG)
Finals week of the fall semester at the High School begins on Monday, January 14.
An anouncement on the South Point Website homepage talks of a need for Testing Proctors for the final exams.
Basically, a proctor is a person who monitors the classroom during exams to minimize disruptions, help keep wandering eyes on own papers/desk, and prevent any possible cheating.
There is a short training provided.
Any adult with time available next week can volunteer to assist with the South Point HS fall semester exams by calling the school at 704-825-3351.