Sports

Gaston To Welcome Olympic Hopefuls In Belmont’s Stowe Park Wednesday

Come see some future Olympians and welcome competitors in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Whitewater Slalom Team Trials in Belmont’s Stowe Park Wednesday, April 23, from 6:30 – 9 p.m.

About 130 competitors are in the area preparing for the trials this weekend at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The City of Belmont is sponsoring the Stowe Park party along with the Belmont Downtown Merchants Association, Gaston Travel and Tourism and The Gaston Gazette.

There’ll be live music by the band Rough Draft and Whitewater Center exhibits. The Belmont Historical Society’s Cultural Learning Center will be open during the event at 40 Catawba Street.

There’s no charge for any of the activities.

Wildcat players shocked by Clark’s departure

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(Gazette Photo – Coach Clark checking on the pizza order)

Wildcats players shocked by Clark’s departure.

 Well, this is news…   football.jpg

Sorry there Dallas – one good run in 36 years…

TIF Turns Gaston Into River City

Tax Increment Financing has turned Gaston County cities and towns into the real life example of the movie version, “The Music Man”:

A con artist, “Professor” Harold Hill, comes to a small Iowa town in the early 1900s. He convinces the town that it needs a marching band, taking orders for the necessary instruments and uniforms. He also sells music lessons in advance, concealing the fact that he cannot read or play a note of music. In the process Professor Hill galvanizes the town out of its torpor and falls in love with the local librarian/music teacher. The movie is the original setting for “Seventy-Six Trombones” and “Till There Was You.”

We’ve got Trouble… Right here in River City…

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An article in the Charlotte Oberserver reports that County manager, Jan Winters has bought into “Big Plan” Jim Palenick’s endorsement of the Big League Dreams program. Where did $23,000 to “study” the project come from? Another tap into the Tourism funds from the hotel/motel tax?  

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Another trip down the route of issuing municipal bonds without voter approval.

Isn’t “Big Plan” the same guy who questioned the Whitewater Park investment by Gaston area communities? Didn’t Mr. Winters have a dickens of a time dealing with the fallout of the failed Equestrian Center and county finances.

So, what are the differences?

Big League Dreams is a for-profit development firm that primarily builds baseball fields with the target area’s local money, and takes 50% of the profits (if there are any). The project is being sold throughout the United States as a way for cash-strapped communities to have “world class” athletic facilities.  

The “target communities” are generally areas that have small parks and recreation budgets — if any at all –, are in areas of unrealized potential — along major highways/transportation corridors, and have attention starved local politicos. Several communities that bought into this project have already had to raise entrance fees — yes, parking/viewing — to meet the for-profit operating budget. Captured events, such as Legion Baseball, the Grizzlies, and any planned event, will have to charge an arm-and-a-leg to meet breakeven points. What guarantees are made by Big League Dreams if the community couldn’t attract major regional or national events?

NONE —

This particular group is asking — demanding, actually (by the business model) — that the target community do the local site research, commit to the fund the construction, and guarantee the construction loan. Then they operate the facilities, and “split” the profits of the facility. The big kicker is that they MUST be able to sell alcohol in their parks. So in essence, the City (and County) in this scheme, want to get a piece of the alcohol sales and profit off of youth sports.

The passage of the Tax Increment Finance law in 2004, has allowed the traveling saleman to flood North Carolina communities with big visions and bigger ideas.  Jim “Big Plan” Palenick and Big League Dreams blew in with this passage.

The US National Whitewater Center is a one-of-a-kind, locally volunteer-driven, non-profit organization. It is a planned out, unique destination place that has not yet been duplicated. Significant private investment was pledged and committed PRIOR to public investment.

The community investment in the USNWC is guaranteed by the public investment of tax dollars, which will be tapped this fiscal year, and probably for the next two consecutive years. Is it a lot of money?

In our opinion, sure, but at the same time it is less than the $18 million proposed for the Baseball fields. It is less than the proposed $12.5 million for downtown Gastonia’s “renovation”.  For the USNWC, a total of $2.5 million was invested by the Gaston communities (Gastonia, Belmont, Mt. Holly) in the $35 million project.

Was there, or is there, a payback from the Whitewater Center? This past summer, the first year of operation, over 50% of the staff were from Gaston County. Primarly college students and young adults. Several events attracted a world-wide audience and visitors, many of whom stayed in the Holiday Inn Express at exit #27. The center attracted over 400,000 visitors — yes, free, mostly curiousity visitors, many more than the 300,000 anticipated.  

So far, the “Big Plan” Jim Palenick  public endorsement tally is over $30 million. We have to ask, what is next ?

This traveling salesman scores bigtime in Gaston County. “Big Plan” also scored in Bay City, Michigan and Rio Rancho, New Mexico prior to blowing into Gastonia.  

Props and Shin Kicks

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(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.

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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!

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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 diane@mybannernews.com . Sports articles can go to Jim Heffner at jim@mybannernews.com . Local reporters are Thomas Lark and Tara Manjarres. You guessed it, their respective email addresses are thomas@mybannernews.com, and tara@mybannernews.com .

Keep up the good work, ya’ll.  all-thumbs-up.jpg

South Point Hoopsters Fall to the Jags

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In a closely contested competition, the Red Raiders fell short at home tonight 62-58 to the Forestview Jaguars.

South Point kept the more talented Jags close in each of the quarters, even holding a slight edge during the first quarter. Forestview held a halftime lead of 30-27.

There was good energy in the gym during the second half. Spectators on both sides getting hoarse over the sheer wall of noise of the hundreds of cheerleaders.

Des Lowery had a good game. Don’t know how many points he scored but he had a sick blocked shot late in the 4th quarter. He had to jump at least 4 feet above everyone to block the Forestview player’s shot from the perimeter.

South Point was fired up during the last two minutes of play, briefly pulling within 2 points, until #10 from Forestview put a couple sweet layups, and finished at the free throw line.

Forestview swept all four games tonight winning the girls jv and varsity games as well as the boys jv and varsity.

South Point looked much better tonight than they did against Ashbrook a few days ago. They hustled more and fought for the ball, earning several fast  breaks, but not able to finish.

Gazette Account:

 Forestview 62, South Point 58Trey Whitworth had 28 points and the Jags put together a strong defensive effort to pick up their second league win Tuesday. Jack Sumner added 14 points for Forestview (7-7, 2-1 Big South), which plays Friday at Ashbrook. Dan Alliss scored 20 and Christian Lawrence poured in 13 for South Point (2-12, 0-4).

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Will finishes strong in State 3A Cross Country Championships

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Junior X-Girl, Elyse Will of South Point finished in 17th place on Saturday in the NC State 3A cross country championships at Tanglewood Park in Winston-Salem.

Will finished strong with a time of 20:30.17 for the 5K run. There were 126 runners in this year’s championship. TC Roberson of Skyland, NC won the overall team championships with 31 points, placing 5 of their runners in the top 10.

Congratulations Miss Will on a great cross country season!

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Bond Referendums

The Belmont Chamber of Commerce is endorsing both Bond Referendums on the November 6 ballot.

We are agreeing to this endorsement as well.

Vote yes for the $12 million Parks and Recreation Bonds.

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Vote yes for the $175 million School Bonds.

School Bonds Information: bond_small.jpg

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