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2008 | IMAGESGASTONCOUNTY.COM | VIDEO VIGNETTES TM

OF GASTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

A LEGEND ROARS BACK TO LIFE

Sweetest Spot in Town Daniel Stowe Memorial Garden attracts tranquility seekers

Riders anxiously await return of classic Indian motorcycle

TUSK, TUSK Museum takes visitors on tour of mastodons and mammoths

SPONSORED BY THE GASTON REGIONAL CHAMBER


2008 EDITION | VOLUME 2 TM

OF GASTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

10 CO NTE NT S F E AT U R E S 10

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GASTON COUNTY BUSINESS 20 Biz Briefs 22 Chamber Report

SWEETEST SPOT IN TOWN

23 Economic Profile

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden invites people to envelop themselves in the vivid colors and fresh air that only nature can offer.

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A LEGEND ROARS BACK TO LIFE Indian Motorcycle will begin production of the classic motorcycle in the second half of 2008 at its facility in Kings Mountain.

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GROWING WITH THE TIMES Residential and commercial growth is the order of the day throughout the county.

25 TUSK, TUSK Mastodons are rambling through the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia.

29 SPREADING THE LOVE

14 D E PA R TM E NT S 6 Almanac: a colorful sampling of Gaston County culture

16 Portfolio: people, places and events that define Gaston County

27 Health & Wellness 32 Community Profile: facts, stats and important numbers to know

Jesse Cole, the Gastonia Grizzlies’ new manager, is making plenty of fans.

30 EDUCATIONAL ENGINE Belmont Abbey College has created a program to prepare students for working in the motor-sports industry. GASTON COU NT Y

ON THE COVER The orchid conservatory at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Photo by Todd Bennett

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ACTION! ADVENTURE! “IT KEPT ME ON THE EDGE OF MY LAPTOP!”

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SENIOR EDITOR ANITA WADHWANI COPY EDITOR JOYCE CARUTHERS ASSOCIATE EDITORS LISA BATTLES, KIM MADLOM, BILL McMEEKIN

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ASSISTANT EDITOR REBECCA DENTON STAFF WRITERS CAROL COWAN, KEVIN LITWIN DIRECTORIES EDITORS AMANDA MORGAN, KRISTY WISE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JESSY YANCEY CONTRIBUTING WRITERS MICHAELA JACKSON, JOE MORRIS, SARAH WARD ONLINE SALES MANAGER MATT SLUTZ

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SALES SUPPORT MANAGER SARA SARTIN STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS JEFF ADKINS, WES ALDRIDGE, TODD BENNETT, ANTONY BOSHIER, IAN CURCIO, BRIAN MCCORD CREATIVE DIRECTOR KEITH HARRIS WEB DESIGN DIRECTOR SHAWN DANIEL PRODUCTION DIRECTOR NATASHA LORENS ASST. PRODUCTION DIRECTOR CHRISTINA CARDEN PRE-PRESS COORDINATOR HAZEL RISNER SENIOR PRODUCTION PROJECT MGR. TADARA SMITH PRODUCTION PROJECT MGRS. MELISSA HOOVER, JILL WYATT SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS LAURA GALLAGHER, KRIS SEXTON, VIKKI WILLIAMS LEAD DESIGNER JANINE MARYLAND GRAPHIC DESIGN JESSICA BRAGONIER, CANDICE HULSEY, ALISON HUNTER, LINDA MOREIRAS, AMY NELSON WEB PROJECT MANAGER ANDY HARTLEY WEB DESIGN RYAN DUNLAP, CARL SCHULZ WEB PRODUCTION JILL TOWNSEND

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MOVING PICTURES

PLUS

VIDEO 1 INSIDE LOOK Join us on a virtual tour of Gaston County through the lenses of our award-winning photographers at imagesgastoncounty.com.

COLOR IMAGING TECHNICIAN CORY MITCHELL AD TRAFFIC MEGHANN CAREY, SARAH MILLER, PATRICIA MOISAN, RAVEN PETTY

CHAIRMAN GREG THURMAN PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER BOB SCHWARTZMAN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT RAY LANGEN SR. V.P./CLIENT DEVELOPMENT JEFF HEEFNER SR. V.P./SALES CARLA H. THURMAN SR. V.P./OPERATIONS CASEY E. HESTER

INSTANT LINKS Read the entire magazine online using our ActiveMagazine™ technology and link instantly to community businesses and services.

VIDEO 2 DANIEL STOWE MEMORIAL GARDEN Take a tour of the flora and fountains of the Daniel Stowe Memorial Garden in our exclusive online video.

V.P./SALES HERB HARPER V.P./SALES TODD POTTER V.P./VISUAL CONTENT MARK FORESTER V.P./TRAVEL PUBLISHING SYBIL STEWART V.P./EDITORIAL DIRECTOR TEREE CARUTHERS MANAGING EDITOR/BUSINESS MAURICE FLIESS MANAGING EDITOR/TRAVEL SUSAN CHAPPELL PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR JEFFREY S. OTTO CONTROLLER CHRIS DUDLEY ACCOUNTING MORIAH DOMBY, RICHIE FITZPATRICK, DIANA GUZMAN, MARIA McFARLAND, LISA OWENS

VIDEO 3 U.S. NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER Check out the action at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a world-class recreation and training facility, in our online video.

RECRUITING/TRAINING DIRECTOR SUZY WALDRIP COMMUNITY PROMOTION DIRECTOR CINDY COMPERRY DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR GARY SMITH

SEARCH OUR ARCHIVES Browse past issues of the magazine by year or search for specific articles by subject.

EVEN MORE Read full-length versions of the magazine’s articles; find related stories; or read new content exclusive to the Web. Look for the See More Online reference in this issue.

MARKETING DIRECTOR KATHLEEN ERVIN IT SYSTEMS DIRECTOR MATT LOCKE IT SERVICE TECHNICIAN RYAN SWEENEY HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER PEGGY BLAKE CUSTOM SALES SUPPORT PATTI CORNELIUS SALES COORDINATOR JENNIFER ALEXANDER OFFICE MANAGER SHELLY GRISSOM

CU S TO M M AG A Z INE M ED I A

Images of Gaston County is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed through the Gaston Regional Chamber and its member businesses. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by e-mail at info@jnlcom.com. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Gaston Regional Chamber 601 W. Franklin Blvd. • Gastonia, NC 28052 Phone: (704) 864-2621 • Fax: (704) 854-8723 www.gastonchamber.com VISIT IMAGES OF GASTON COUNTY ONLINE AT IMAGESGASTONCOUNTY.COM ©Copyright 2008 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member

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Custom Publishing Council

Member Gaston County Chamber of Commerce Please recycle this magazine

GASTON COU NT Y

SEE HOW THE GARDENS GROW From the Outer Banks to the Great Smokies, North Carolina’s diverse climate and topography afford tremendous opportunities for gardeners. Find out more at imagesgastoncounty.com.

BARBECUE RULES One of the simple pleasures of Southern dining is the downhome barbecue experience. Pork is the meat of choice, and traditional side dishes include coleslaw and hush puppies. Get a taste of regional cuisine at imagesgastoncounty.com.

A B O U T T H I S M AG A Z I N E Images of Gaston County is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is sponsored by the Gaston Regional Chamber. In print and online, Images gives readers a taste of what makes Gaston County tick – from business and education to sports, health care and the arts.

“Find the good – and praise it.” – Alex Haley (1921-1992), Journal Communications co-founder

jnlcom.com

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Good Morning, Brother

If the Shoe Fits George Poston Park in Lowell has built up quite a reputation – in horseshoes. The 350-acre park is home to a 24-court, championshipcaliber, lighted horseshoe pitching area. It has already hosted several regional tournaments and a couple of horseshoe state championships, bringing in competitors from across North Carolina. Besides horseshoes, George Poston has lighted softball and Little League fields, lighted soccer fields, a mountain bike trail and playground equipment. Plans include adding a fishing lake, equestrian trails and hiking trails.

Belmont Abbey is home to a historic monastery that was founded in 1876. The 20 monks of the Benedictine Order who live there pray and work together, according to the teachings of the Gospel and Saint Benedict. The 700-acre Belmont Abbey is also home to a liberal arts college, where the monks not only teach, but serve as administrators and sponsors of student organizations. Perhaps Gaston County residents know Belmont Abbey best as a center for culture, with theatrical and musical events held throughout the year. It is home to the Abbey Players (dramatics), Abbey Chorus (vocal music) and the Belmont Abbey Quintet (a classical chamber group).

A Really Big Salute Gastonia is home to the world’s largest flying American flag. When flown on special occasions atop its flagpole on West Franklin Boulevard, the flag can be seen for 30 miles. It measures 65 feet tall, 114 feet wide and weighs 180 pounds, and each of the 13 stripes measures 5 feet in height. Meanwhile, the 225-foot flagpole is 4 feet in diameter at the base and weighs 80,000 pounds. The Gaston chapter of the United Veterans of America owns the flag, and it is flown June 14 on Flag Day and other specials occasions.

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Almanac

Fast Facts Q Festivals take place in just about every town in Gaston County, during just about every month of the year. Q The county has the seventh-largest school system in North Carolina, serving more than 30,000 students. Q North Carolina’s Piedmont is known for its fish camps, which are simply restaurants where large servings of fried fish are served.

Gimme a Brake One of the three major truck museums in the United States is in Cherryville. The C. Grier Beam Truck Museum was founded in 1982 by the Carolina Freight Carriers Corp. as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. The 7,500-square-foot museum features a variety of vintage trucks and memorabilia that date back as far as the 1930s. The displays are actually housed in the original gas station building where Carolina Freight Carriers began its operation in 1932. The museum of trucks is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Q The Gaston County Museum of Art & History in Dallas is located in the former Hoffman Hotel, which dates back to 1852. Q Three of North Carolina’s five interstate highways run through or are minutes away from Gaston County: Interstates 40, 77 and 85.

Flights of Fancy Look – up in the sky. But don’t look too high. Lewis Brooks Airfield in Bessemer City is a 55-acre park in the western part of Gaston County that attracts radio-controlled flying enthusiasts. The park features a paved runway for planes to take off and ample space for them to fly. A couple of flying clubs host get-togethers at the airfield throughout the year to share camaraderie and share information about the hobby. The airfield park is located on Abel Road.

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SEE MORE ONLINE | For more Fast Facts about Gaston County, visit imagesgastoncounty.com.

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Courtyard by Marriott 1856 Remount Road Gastonia, NC 28054 (704) 852-4411 (800) 891-3766 Fax: (704) 852-3819

Nestled in the heart of Gaston County, the Courtyard by Marriott Gastonia knows what’s important to today’s business and leisure travelers alike. “Courtyard by Marriott – making life better on the road” www.carolinadiscountrooms.com/newcomers

Fairfield Inn by Marriott 1860 Remount Road Gastonia, NC 28054 (704) 867-5073 (800) 891-3955 Fax: (704) 867-7338

Only Fairfield Inn gives you the confidence that your trip will be a success, because we know you well enough to consistently deliver a hotel experience that feels just right.

www.carolinadiscountrooms.com/newcomers


Almanac

Candy for a Cause When businesses or individuals in Gaston County need a special gift, they often order a Cherubs Candy Bouquet. Not only do customers get good candies, but they also support people with developmental and physical disabilities. Cherubs is a subsidiary of Holy Angels, a nonprofit group that houses about 75 disabled children and adults. Adjacent to Cherubs Candy Bouquets in downtown Belmont is Cherubs CafĂŠ, with menu items such as homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts and gourmet coffees.

Now That’s a Museum Artifacts from as far back as the 1500s are on display at the Gaston County Museum of Art & History. The museum in Dallas has 5,000 objects related to Gaston County and North Carolina, along with 20,000 documents and more than 400,000 photos from the 1500s through the 20th century. The museum even is housed in a historical building, the former Hoffman Hotel, that was built in 1852.

Gaston County | At A Glance Gaston County

POPULATION (2006 ESTIMATE) Gaston County: 199,397 Gastonia (county seat): 69,904 LOCATION Gaston County is just west of Charlotte, in the Southern Piedmont area of North Carolina. Its 15 municipalities are Belmont, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Cramerton, Dallas, Dellview, Gastonia, High Shoals, Kings Mountain, Lowell, McAdenville, Mount Holly, Ranlo, Spencer Mountain and Stanley. BEGINNINGS The county was officially founded on Dec. 21, 1846, from a lower portion of Lincoln County. It was named after William Gaston (1778-1844), a member of Congress and North Carolina Supreme Court judge. FOR MORE INFORMATION Gaston Regional Chamber 601 W. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28052 Phone: (704) 864-2621, Fax: (704) 854-8723 www.gastonchamber.com

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High Shoals

Dellview

Stanley

Cherryville 321

Dallas Bessemer City

Spencer Mountain Ranlo

Kings Mountain

Gastonia 77 NORTH CAROLINA

Mount Holly

Belmont Lowell McAdenville Cramerton

GASTON

SOUTH CAROLINA

SEE VIDEO ONLINE | Take a virtual tour of Gaston County at imagesgastoncounty.com, courtesy of our award-winning photographers.

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Sweetest Spot in

Town

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FLOWERS AND FOUNTAINS MAKE DANIEL STOWE A GREAT, IN-TOWN ESCAPE

STORY BY MICHAELA JACKSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY TODD BENNETT

T

he Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden rests on 110 acres of beautifully cultivated landscape in Belmont, and invites respite-seekers of all ages to envelop themselves in the vivid colors and fresh air that only nature can offer. “I think that one of the beauties of the garden is that we’re so close to Charlotte and Gastonia and metropolitan areas, but we feel very far away,” says Kara Newport, the garden’s executive director. “So even if you only drive 15 or 20 minutes to get here, you feel like you’ve gone on a vacation.” Unlike many other botanical gardens, Daniel Stowe is a display garden, which means they arrange plants based on how they look together rather than their genus and family. Winding paths snake through manicured trees and shrubs, punctuated by bursts of color. Fountains and sculptures add an architectural element to the garden that further enhances it’s enchanted environment. “Children, a lot of times, even if it’s unintentional, come away with the most because there are less and less opportunities to interact with nature,” Newport says. “This provides a comfortable environment for people to interact with nature and see it in a different way.” The garden was established in 1999, and organizers immediately began work on a 50-year master plan that will ultimately include a children’s garden, an education complex, a home demonstration garden, an Asian garden and a rose garden on 350 acres. The latest addition to the garden is a $9.5 million, 8,000square-foot orchid conservatory that opens in 2008 and displays more than 10,000 plants. “Orchids are sort of an unusual flower. They’re not the flower you draw as a kid,” she says. “It’s not just something that someone has told you is beautiful – it’s something that even a child thinks is beautiful.” Melissa Marshall is the partner at landscaping design firm MTR, and she led the design effort for the conservatory. “It’s a sensual experience that is smells, sounds, and sights – color and plants and things like that – so it appeals to all the senses,” Marshall says. Plants were chosen for the conservatory based on their

uniqueness, says Conservatory Manager Jamie Burghardt. “We wanted our conservatory to bring a wide array of tropical plants that the vast majority of people had never seen, or perhaps only seen in pictures,” he says. “A simple motto was: ‘If it can be found growing as a common houseplant, it’s not the right plant to use.’” Ultimately, a visit to the garden and conservatory should be a relaxing, rewarding experience, Newport says. “I really want people to be just awe-struck with the beauty that the plants can create,” she says. “It’s an escape. It’s a getaway. It’s something fulfilling for a family to do, that they feel like they’ve learned something and they’ve accomplished something together.”

The new orchid conservatory at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden displays more than 10,000 plants.

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A Legend

Roars Back to

LOYAL RIDERS ANXIOUSLY AWAIT RETURN OF CLASSIC INDIAN MOTORCYCLE

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Life GASTON COU NT Y


STORY BY MICHAELA JACKSON

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hen Eddie Brimer wasn’t much taller than the motorcycle he now rides, Indian motorbikes were already in his blood. His brother-in-law kept a 1948 Chief in the Brimers’ garage, and Brimer would wash it and sit on it and – when he was lucky – go for a ride. “I guess on my little young mind, it kind of left an impression,” says Brimer, a Gaston County resident. “I always said that I wanted one of those bikes, one of those Indian Chiefs.” Since those days, Brimer, like many other Indian devotees, has wrestled through a love-and-longing relationship with the classic motorcycle maker. The company disbanded after turning over its production to the war effort during World War II. And now purists like Brimer are collectively holding their breath as the company roars back to life after years of fits and starts. The flagship store will open in Gastonia, and the company announced in 2006 that they would open their headquarters and manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain. The current goal is to begin production of the new Chief in the second half of 2008, according to the company’s Web site. “They’re going to have to come out the door with something that will really blow people away,” Brimer says. “And I think that they are.” The company sure does have a lot of goodwill from riders on its side. The iconic motorcycle, which even graced the front of a postage stamp in 1996, has developed somewhat of a cult following. “It’s a weird phenomenon,” Brimer says. “It really is. They say once it gets in your blood, it’s hard to get it out. If you talk to Indian owners, they’re like that. They may ride something else. They may even own other bikes. But their heart is with Indian.” Brimer credits Indian’s individual spirit with some of its charm. Indian riders want to be different, he says – unlike many Harley Davidson riders, for example, who often pick up the habit so they can belong to a huge group. “They have a real nostalgic look,” he says. “It’s not like any other bike on the market out there. You can go to one of these

bike meets and there will be 10,000 Harleys. If you ride a Harley Davidson, you can barely find yours in the sea of Harley Davidsons because they all look alike. But there are very few Indians out there.” If all goes according to plan, the turn of 2009 will see a lot more Indians on the road. But if Brimer reckons right, people will be just as excited about them years from now as when they hit the pavement back in 1901. “Once it gets in your blood,” he says, “it’s there.” And while Indian Motorcycles is counting on the nostalgia of its die-hard fans, the company is using 21st-century manufacturing technology to produce the new bikes. It has also established an Indian Motorcycle blog on its Web site at www.indianmotorcycle.com.

Oscar Hedstrom, designer of the first Indian motorcycle in 1901, is pictured here with the first mass-produced bike.

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Grow With the

Times ADVANCE PLANNING HAS COUNTY AND COMMUNITIES PREPPED FOR GROWTH

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ing STORY BY JOE MORRIS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY TODD BENNETT

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astonia and surrounding Gaston County are pictures of well-planned expansion. From the tree-lined streets of Belmont to the renovations in downtown Gastonia and the ready-for-business industrial parks around the area, residential and commercial growth is the order of the day throughout the county, as Charlotte’s metro area expands ever outward. But Gaston has never been a bedroom community and certainly isn’t going to become one now, says Steve Nye, marketing director for the Gaston County Economic Development Commission. “The spotlight has not been on us as brightly as some areas of the Charlotte region, but we’re starting to feel the effects now,” Nye says. “The growth is coming our way, and for several years we’ve been preparing for that. We’ve looked at our properties to make sure that we’re maintaining areas for commercial and industrial employment centers, and that we have places where people can to go to work.” The county’s strong heritage as a manufacturing center continues, with about 23 percent of its workforce in that market sector, so making the county a good place to both live and work is vital, Nye says. In Gastonia, a downtown renovation is attracting new businesses, restaurants and shops. Recreational opportunities, such as a new disc golf course and the proximity of Crowders Mountain are attracting a variety of visitors – and many are liking what they see enough to move to Gastonia. Variety is certainly the watchword in Mount Holly, the county’s second-largest city. Major developments

such as the U.S. Whitewater Center on the Catawba River and the I-485 interchange have spurred much downtown development, including a new city hall and center, and there’s plenty more to come, says Edna Chirico, economic development chair of the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation. “It’s a wonderful time to be in east Gaston, and Gaston County as a whole,” Chirico says. “Everyone is well positioned to see a lot of positive things throughout the county. We’re seeing quality growth in the service sector, from medical offices to retail shopping, and our residential growth is taking off as well.” While Mount Holly is benefiting from Charlotte’s sprawl, she echoes Nye’s sentiment that the city is much more than a bedroom community. “We have a great quality of life here,” she says. “We have local police and fire departments here and in these other small towns, and good schools. We’re going to have challenges as we grow, but we are going to be partnering with other people to handle things like water, sewer and utilities long before they become problems. If we plan ahead, we won’t get surprised.” That’s the plan on the ground in nearby Belmont as well, which – like Mount Holly – is issuing thousands of new-home permits and revamping itself to take advantage of the influx of new people and business. “The wave is cresting in eastern Gaston right now,” says Mayor Richard Boyce, who took office in late 2005. “We value the kind of small-town community we’ve been so long. But, if properly handled, this growth offers us tremendous opportunities.”

Gaston County is the second-largest county in the region and is starting to see more growth as people rediscover downtown Gastonia and families snatch up new and historic homes in Gastonia, Mount Holly and Belmont.

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Portfolio

Celebrate Good Times GASTON COUNTY FESTIVALS PAY TRIBUTE TO FUN, FOOD AND FOLIAGE

G

aston County has plenty of reasons to celebrate – and plenty of celebrations. Area citizens commemorate the county’s rich and diverse history with festivals such as Cotton Ginning Days, the Catawba Indian Festival, Piedmont Heritage Festival and more. “The festivals here in Gaston County really bring out the best in our small towns,” says Malissa Gordon of the Gaston County Department of Tourism. “They get the community out to spend time with neighbors as well as greet new faces.” One of the biggest area festivals, the GaribaldiFest, pays homage to the beginnings of the town of Belmont, originally named Garibaldi after the man who built a water pump tower in the town. The 24th annual GaribaldiFest takes place May 17, 2008, at Stowe Park in Belmont and will have games and inflatables for the kids, hay rides, arts and crafts, food and entertainment. The Cherry Blossom Festival in downtown Cherryville hails the arrival of spring with two days of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Carnival rides, art exhibits, crafters and, of course, plenty of food and live entertainment make this late-April celebration a great family outing. Another popular springtime festival happens early in May in the streets of Mount Holly. The festival follows a week of special events and culminates in a day jam-packed with fun, food and dancing. Mount Holly Springfest includes

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County festival: smiling faces, good food and a great time!” Find a complete listing of events – from Down Home Days in Bessemer City to Country Fest in Stanley to McAdenville’s Yule Log Festival – along with dates and times at www. gastontourism.com.

PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPHEN AUSMUS

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival in the aptly named Cherryville hails the arrival of spring.

a 5K run, softball and charity golf tournaments, senior dinners and an antique car show. “Some of the festivals have been around for more than 30 years, while some are just starting their traditions,” Gordon says. “Either way, you are guaranteed a few things at a Gaston

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The Lights of the City n McAdenville, with a population of just 700, residents string their Christmas lights early. That’s because on Dec. 1 every year, the whole town lights up to welcome the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the famed display that earned this town its nickname, Christmas Town, USA. Twinkling bulbs in white, red and green adorn more than 375 trees – ranging from six feet to 90 feet tall – along the one-mile route. Floodlit carolers, a life-size nativity scene, a nine-foottall Santa and other images add to the experience. The doors of virtually every home are decorated, and some 200 wreaths hang from the street’s lampposts. “If you live in Christmas Town, USA, you’ve got to know that from Dec. 1 to Dec. 26, you’ll play host to 600,000 people,” says Mel Collins, vice president of human resources at Pharr Yarns, the major sponsor of McAdenville’s annual Christmas extravaganza. “When you go out to get a loaf of bread, it will take about 27 ‘Merry Christmases’ to get out and get back.” Featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” HGTV’s 2000 “Christmas Across America” special and MSNBC news network, the tiny town’s renowned 52-year tradition continues to grow. The 2007 edition saw a few changes. “One thing we’ve noticed is that many, many, many more people walked this year than drove. You get a much better sense of the lights and the music when you’re on foot rather than in the car,” Collins says. “[In 2007], about 40 trees along Wesleyan Drive did not use the incandescent lights. They’ve gone with the energy-efficient LED lights, which use a fraction of the energy that the incandescent lights do. The business district framed the entire roofline with white LED lights. So you had all these trees lit up on the street, and then the quaint old buildings downtown as the backdrop. It was just spectacular.”

BRIAN M C CORD

I

McAdenville’s Christmas lights display draws 600,000 people each year to the small town of 700.

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Portfolio

Whitewater Center of Attention F and environmental learning complex draws canoe and kayak enthusiasts and athletes from far and wide. A system of powerful pumps pushes the specially treated water through the river’s channels with tremendous force, churning up rapids that make for some thrilling recreation, Boggs says. And you don’t have to be a pro to participate. “If you go whitewater rafting, a guide takes you on a four- or six-person raft, and you ride a conveyor belt up to the upper pond where you start your

trip. Then you go through the back section a couple times to get warmed up before you go down the competition trail, which is really difficult. The whole thing takes about two hours.” The center has activities for everyone in the family, including f lat-water canoeing on the gentle Catawba River – which borders the facility – the tallest climbing wall in the country, high and low ropes courses and a zip line, 11 miles of hiking and biking trails, and a conference center and restaurant. The USNWC will host its first official U.S. Olympic Team trial April 25 through April 27, 2008, with some of the best slalom paddlers in the world competing for the chance to take their teams to Beijing in August. About 25,000 spectators are expected at the three-day festival, which will also feature a climbing competition, fireworks, live entertainment, kids’ games, food and package deals for USNWC activities. A national climbing competition also takes place at the center on Saturday, April 26. For more information about the facility, visit www.usnwc.org.

WES ALDRIDGE

olks might be surprised to learn that Gaston County boasts whitewater rapids of Olympic proportions. That’s right – the United States Olympic Committee has designated the U.S. National Whitewater Center, located just east of Gastonia, an official U.S. Olympic Training Site. “We have the world’s only manmade, recirculating, multichannel whitewater river,” says Erin Boggs of USNWC. “The facility is pretty amazing.” The $37 million outdoor recreation

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is home to the world’s only manmade, recirculating, multi-channel whitewater river.

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PHOTOS BY TODD BENNETT

Downtown’s Looking Up H

istoric downtown Gastonia is getting a face-lift. The city has invested $6.3 million in renovating the 1911 Gaston County Courthouse, which now houses the James B. Garland Municipal Business Center, a one-stop government service facility. And Gastonia’s downtown area is attracting consumers from outside the city for a more laid-back shopping experience, says Rachel Bagley, director of communications and marketing for the city of Gastonia. “Retail is really bustling,” Bagley says. “People come from Shelby, Kings Mountain and Charlotte to do shopping that may be too busy elsewhere. The thing I hear people say all the time is that

they use Gastonia as the place to come to find the sizes they can’t find. And it’s a little less hectic-ness while shopping.” Downtown Gastonia is a 49-acre business district with 1.1 million square feet of – mainly – historic buildings. Today, city officials and private businesses are working together to invest in downtown’s thriving future. In addition to retail shops opening up new storefronts, plans are under way to restore new life to a former textile factory. At nearly 600,000 square feet, the Loray Mill was the largest factory of its kind when it was built in 1902. Plans call for transforming the space into residential lofts and condominiums, with a charter school, retail shops and offices.

The renovated 1911 Gaston County Courthouse is home to a new government service center and is the centerpiece of a thriving downtown.

Virtually Bio-Educational T

he North Carolina Community College System BioNetwork gears training programs specifically for emerging biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. But it couldn’t happen without the BioEducation Center at Gaston College. The BioEd Center started in 2004, develops curriculum and devises effective methods for delivering classes to distance learners enrolled in NCCCS BioNetwork’s numerous certificate, two-year degree and universitytransfer programs across the state. It also holds specialty workshops and customizes professional development courses for area business and industry. The BioEd Center has already developed a number of courses for which about half of learning takes place online, says Vernon Shoaf, manager of the BioNetwork BioEd Center. The hybrid courses allow students to listen to lectures and see labs performed via streaming video before they come into the classroom.

“It standardizes the information and reduces the amount of time students have to spend on site,” he says. Similarly, a distance-education model using videoconferencing for biotech labs allows students across the state to take the same class at the same time. Working with a pharmaceutical company, the BioEd Center has also developed a 3-D simulation program that familiarizes students with working on a pharmaceutical production line without the real-life risks. The BioEd Center created the Good Manufacturing Practices program especially for Web learning to help meet area workforce development needs. It has also conducted workshops for high school teachers and community college faculty to prepare students for biotechnology fields. – Stories by Carol Cowan

BioNetwork Education Center Manager Vernon Shoaf, left, films Greg Smith for a training video.

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Business | Biz Briefs

everything is done in-house to ensure the highest quality.”

TODD BENNETT

STRONG FIBERS The DSM Desotech manufacturing plant in Stanley produces UV curable coatings and other products used primarily in the fiber optics industry. With annual sales from $7 billion to $8 billion and plants and facilities on every continent, it is easy to see why DSM Desotech is the world’s leader in this industry. The Stanley plant opened in 2001. It currently holds a chemical reaction research facility at its location and is expanding its facility to make room for a testing facility for DSM Dyneema, a division of DSM. “DSM Dyneema makes the strongest fiber in the world,” says John Aviles, site manager of the Stanley plant. “The products that they make have been approved for the military. Their newest fiber has been developed into bulletresistant protective gear worn by U.S. troops in combat.” The DSM Desotech facility in Stanley employs 55 and is also heavily involved in numerous charities in the community.

The Facet Foundry Jewelry Studio in Gastonia specializes in custom designs.

A JEWEL OF A JOB Communicating with the jeweler can be one of the most difficult parts of having a custom piece of jewelry made. At the Facet Foundry Jewelry Studio in Gastonia, understanding customer design is essential to the jewelry-making process. “I always do a sketch of what I think they are envisioning,” says Brent Messer, owner, designer and craftsman. “Then I refine it, make sure everyone is on the same page, and the guys do the magic.” 20

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Two jewelers, three salespeople, a sales manager and Messer himself comprise the work force at Facet. They have enough high-level expertise to handle the most complicated jewelry designs and repairs. The studio also carries the jewelry of many talented designers, including the work of their own craftsman. “It is wonderful to be surrounded by so many creative people,” Messer says. “From simple, sterling silver pieces to precious gems, metals and diamonds,

DOWN-HOME COOKIN’ Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week in a casual, familyoriented atmosphere, the City Café solves the daily dilemma of what to feed the family. “We offer comfort food in a very comfortable setting, a family-oriented atmosphere,” says Ken Bowers, owner. Breakfast consists of country ham, sausages, bacon, eggs to order, grits and biscuits. Lunch is typically a meat-andthree – the “three” being side dishes – with a reduced portion menu for customers wishing to eat light. The dinner menu offers country-style steak, fried chicken breast with white gravy, chicken salad and chef salad, with an impressive variety of homemade desserts, such as chocolate cream pie. “We always buy fresh chicken and hand-bread it,” Bower says. “Everything is made in-house with the freshest ingredients we can find.” City Café, located in the old Jones Bros. grocery store building in downtown GASTON COU NT Y


Mount Holly, has a large banquet room frequently used for community meetings, business meetings, wedding receptions and birthday parties. TAGGED A WINNER Family-run Holly Tag & Label started back in 1984 as a one-person business. Fifteen employees later, the custom label company has an impressive roster of clients and a business that has yet to slow down. “My husband handled all aspects of the business before,” says Kay Harris, co-owner. “Now, it’s my husband and me, my son and daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter comes by to help.” Specializing in pressure-sensitive custom labels, Holly Tag & Label does commercial special printing for a number of products and clients. From candles, soaps, water bottles and car filters to individual custom orders such as wedding favors, most things carry some form of label, Harris is quick to point out. The same is true for tags. Holly Tag & Label prints tags for greenhouses and a number of other companies. “If you can attach a tag to it, we can do it,” Harris says. SHOPPING WITH STYLE After teaching gifted children for a number a years for Gastonia County schools, Susan Joyner decided that it was time for a change. Tally Ho Clothiers Inc. opened its doors in Gastonia in 1985, offering a wide selection of contemporary styles and lines for ladies all ages. Joyner chose the name, Tally Ho, because of her appreciation for English fox hunting, which she associates with the horse farm she lives on that has been in her family since the 18th century. “My customer base has expanded to the metro area around the region and all over North and South Carolina,” Joyner says. “I am proud to say that we are a shopping destination for many.” Customers flock to the chic store from a number of professions, but as Joyner explains, all possess a love for style, a good fit and the desire for that one perfect outfit for special occasions. – Sarah Ward GASTON COU NT Y

SISCO Fire & Safety Inc. Your Single Source Fire, Safety & Facilities Maintenance Supplier

FIRE EXTINGUISHER SALES & SERVICE Inspections • Installations • Refills • Training SAFETY SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT Personal Protective Equipment • Glasses First Aid Equipment & Supplies • Respirators Gloves • Apparel • Medical Box Supply & Service JANITORIAL/FACILITY & MAINTENANCE SUPPLIES Paper Products • Plastic Bags • Cleaning Supplies

SISCO Fire & Safety, Inc. has earned an excellent name for itself with the business and industrial community in the area for quality fire and safety equipment and service. SISCO is located in Gastonia, just off South New Hope Road. Call them for further information on their complete line of services.

GASTONIA

(704) 824-8880

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Business | Chamber Report

Expanding the Network CHAMBER LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE FOR PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS

T

he Gaston Regional Chamber has unveiled an innovative Web site to improve communication among its membership. The new site – www.gastonchamber.com – has already been a resounding success, increasing networking opportunities among busy professionals and business people, as well as bringing key regional updates to the community’s desktops. “Our goal is to broaden the focus—from county information only to a view of the entire region,” says Sarah Park Rankin, communications coordinator for the chamber, which recently changed its name from the Gaston County Chamber of Commerce. “We believe that the site is a good gateway for this.” Offering helpful information and features with routine updates and content, this informative, user-friendly, site is available to members whenever they need it. “What our chamber members want is ultimately what we want,” Rankin says. “A great, dynamic site that is active and meets their needs.” The site offers a job bank so that chamber members are able to post resumes and search job listings. It encourages prospective employers to post openings available at their businesses. Suggestions about writing professional resumes are also included. Likewise, MarketPlace connects chamber members with companies and individuals in search of

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vendors. This upcoming feature will allow members to both bid on jobs and monitor bids on the site as well as invite bids for services. The site’s events calendar makes keeping up with business events a breeze – each event description provides the time, location and a map to assist members and offers an option to RSVP online. There is a Members News section, keeping members inthe-know about their business community. Member 2 Member is also a valuable way for members to meet while earning discounts on products and services available at fellow members’ companies. Categories in Member 2 Member range from advertising and marketing to office furniture and travel agencies. An upcoming business chat room will serve as another way for members to connect through the site. The chamber would also like to offer a way for members to connect with more businesses, members and services outside of the county. One of the site’s newest components is a surveys section, which allows members to speak out on various issues. “We love hearing about ways we can improve,” Rankin says. “So the more members can stay involved with the site, the more it will continue to progress and become everything they want it to be.” – Sarah Ward GASTON COU NT Y


Business | Economic Profile

GASTON COUNTY BUSINESS CLIMATE Gaston County strives for a healthy economy by growing existing businesses, bringing in new and successful industries, improving infrastructure, and involving citizens in planning for the future.

TAXES

MAJOR EMPLOYERS

Sales tax, 7.0%

Employers American & Efird, 1,000+

Property taxes $0.893 per $100 valuation

HOUSING COSTS In ACCRA Cost-Of-Living Surveys, Gastonia/Gaston County consistently rates as one of the communities with the lowest cost-of-living in the Southeast. Housing costs are below the national average. A new mid-management 2,400-square-foot home located within city limits with close proximity to shopping and schools costs less than $230,000.

Additional taxes include a small fire district tax and municipal taxes within municipalities. Local Property Tax Rates Taxing Authorities, $ Per $100 Valuation

More than 70 of the companies listed on Fortune’s 500 operate in Gaston County. Gaston County has 22 foreignowned firms, and four are U.S. headquarters. More than 200 metalworking firms provide diverse services for Gaston County.

Highways Interstates 40, 77 and 85 run through, or are minutes away from, Gaston County. Gaston County also has three major U.S. highways and eight major state highways. Railroad Amtrak, (800) USA-RAIL

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Freightliner of Gastonia LLC 1,000+ Freightliner of Mount Holly LLC, 1,000+ Gaston County Schools, 1,000+ Pharr Yarns Inc., 1,000+

City of Belmont, $0.46

Sara Lee Corp., 1,000+

City of Bessemer City, $0.41 City of Cherryville, $0.44

Wal-Mart Association Inc., 1,000+

Town of Cramerton, $0.43

Wix Filtration, 1,000+

Town of Dallas, $0.35 City of Gastonia, $0.54 City of Kings Mountain, $0.36 City of Lowell, $0.40 Town of McAdenville, $0.30 City of Mount Holly, $0.45 Town of Ranlo, $0.37 Town of Spencer, $0.26

INCOME STATISTICS 2004 per capita personal income, $28,961 2004 median household income, $42,424 2005 average employment 96,015

Town of Stanley, $0.54 Sources: The Gaston County Economic Development Commission, county government and municipal governments

TRANSPORTATION Airports Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, 359-4013

County of Gaston, 1,000+

Gaston County, $0.89

City of High Shoals, $0.43

INTERESTING FACTS

Caromont Health, 1,000+

GASTON COUNTY POPULATION AND PROJECTIONS Year

Population

COST OF LIVING INDEX First Quarter, 2004 Charleston, W.Va. 88.8 Rocky Mount 89.7 Dothan, Ala. 90.4 Albany, Ga. 90.5 Clearwater, Fla. 90.6 Gastonia 91.6

2005

194,100

2010

197,168

Greenville, S.C. 92.8

2015

201,125

Bradenton, Fla. 93.3

2020

213,227

Sumter, S.C. 93.4

2025

205,240

Tuscaloosa, Ala. 94.3 Pensacola, Fla. 94.4

Source: North Carolina demographer’s office

Fayetteville 95.2 Valdosta, Ga. 95.3

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Business | Economic Profile COUNTY ADMINISTRATION & MUNICIPAL HALL LOCATIONS Gaston County Administration Manager’s Office, 212 W. Main St. 866-3100

City of Cherryville City Hall, 116 S. Mountain St. 435-1710 Town of Cramerton Town Hall, 155 N. Main St. 824-4337 Town of Dallas Town Hall, 210 N. Holland St. 922-3176

City of Belmont City Hall, 39 N. Main St. 825-5586

City of Gastonia City Hall, 181 South St. 866-6719

City of Bessemer City City Hall 132 W. Virginia Ave. 629-5542

City of High Shoals City Hall, 101 Thompkins St. 735-1651 City of Kings Mountain City Hall, 101 Gold St. 734-0333 City of Lowell Town Hall, 101 W. First St. 824-8540 Town of McAdenville Town Hall, 125 Main St. 824-3190 City of Mount Holly City Hall, 131 S. Main St. 827-3931 Town of Ranlo, Town Hall 1624 Spencer Mountain Rd. 824-3461 Town of Stanley Town Hall, 114 S. Main St. 263-4779

FOR MORE INFORMATION Gaston County Economic Development Commission P.O. Box 2339 Gastonia, NC 28053 Phone: (704) 825-4046 Fax: (704) 825-4066 www.gaston.org Gaston Regional Chamber 601 W. Franklin Blvd. Gastonia, NC 28052 Phone: (704) 864-2621 (800) 348-8461 Fax: (704) 854-8723 www.gastonchamber.com

Sources: www.gaston.org www.gastontourism.com www.fedstats.gov

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Arts & Culture

TODD BENNETT

American Indian history is featured along with pre-historic mammoth exhibits at the Schiele Museum.

Tusk, Tusk SCHIELE MUSEUM TAKES VISITORS ON A REALLY LARGE TOUR OF NATURAL PRE-HISTORY

S

ome 15,000 years ago, mastodons ambled through forests and along riverbanks of the Eastern United States. Now, they’re ambling through the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia – but only for a few months. The TUSKS! exhibit at the museum puts visitors toe-to-toe with not only mastodons but also mammoths and other animals that lived alongside them. Kids, and their parents, can learn a thing or two about what these creatures ate and how they lived as they wandered the open country. “I just think it’s cool for people to know that long before we were here, there were elephants roaming around here,” says Ann Tippitt, executive director GASTON COU NT Y

of the museum. The exhibit also features saber-toothed cats, camels and giant sloths. If ancient animals aren’t your cup of tea, visit the museum in June for the Swamp Things exhibit, featuring a few stuffed animals and lots of live ones – including a pair of alligators and a live bobcat. “We really want to have something that will appeal to the whole family,” Tippitt says. “If it’s mom and dad and the kids and they’ve got Great Aunt Ethel and they’re going out on vacation, we hope we have something that would appeal to everyone in the family.” The Schiele has the ticket, as long as Great Aunt Ethel likes bobcats. The museum, which sees approx-

imately 85,000 visitors a year, offers a variety of ongoing programs and exhibits, such as explorations of the life of American Indians. “We consider ourselves an attraction, but we also take very seriously our responsibility and the role that we have to play being a local resource to learners of all ages,” Tippitt says. The museum presents unique programs to approximately 60,000 students each year, both on the museum grounds and in classrooms in and around Gaston County. Teachers can also attend professional development seminars at the Schiele Museum. “I see the Schiele as being very much a community leader in terms of being a place where people come together to explore new ideas and learn,” Tippitt says. “Our primary mission is to inspire people to have an appreciation for the natural world and to understand their role as a player in that environmental web of life.” –Michaela Jackson I M AG E S G A S T O N C O U N T Y. C O M

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Serving the people of Gaston County since 1981

Compassionate Care for the People You Love ... Unconditional Love. Unlimited Possibilities.

Professional health care for the terminally ill and their families. Nursing services specializing in pain management and symptom control Social Services Spiritual and emotional care Volunteer services

For more than 50 years Holy Angels has provided unconditional love and unlimited possibilities in a residential setting for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities, many of whom are medically fragile. Our holistic and innovative programs include a special education program, Little Angels Child Development Center (an on-site day care for employees’ children), horticulture therapy, creative arts, a state-ofthe-art Snoezelen Room, speech and physical therapies and meaningful work opportunities through Holy Angels’ Cherubs Café and Candy Bouquets’ vocational program.

Bereavement counseling 24 hours/7 days a week NC Licensed • ACHC Accredited Medicare/Medicaid • Private Insurance

You can help Holy Angels, a non-profit 501 (c)(3), by sharing your time, talents and treasures. Visit us at www.holyangelsnc.org. HOLY ANGELS, INC. • 6600 Wilkinson Blvd. • P.O. Box 710 Belmont, NC 28012 • (704) 825-4161 • Fax: (704) 825-0553 info@holyangelsnc.org

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(704) 861-8405

258 E. Garrison Blvd. • Water Tower Place • Gastonia www.gastonhospice.org

GASTON COU NT Y


Health & Wellness

TODD BENNETT

Gaston Memorial Hospital is among the top 5 percent of U.S. hospitals named an excellent place by nurses.

Where the Nurses Want To Work GASTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL LANDS ACCOLADES FOR ITS CARE, WORK ENVIRONMENT

G

aston Memorial Hospital has no shortage of jewels in its crown. The 435-bed facility boasts a world-class birth center that attracts families from outside the county to its labor facility and neonatal intensive care unit. The hospital’s other “Centers of Excellence” are in cardiology, cancer care, orthopedics and neurosurgery. “We’re probably the most important player west of Charlotte in this particular region,” says Jean Waters, director of

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marketing and public affairs for the hospital. “We’re certainly the largest hospital in that Western Charlotte region. So we’re pretty critical to the health care of folks in this region. We have a strong market share.” The hospital also holds the designation of being a Magnet Hospital, an honor given by the American Nurses Credentialing Association, which is a division of the American Nurses Association. This means GMH is one of

only approximately 5 percent of hospitals in the country to be named an excellent place for nurses to work. The hospital worked very hard to receive the nod, according to Waters. “It’s not just something you send in a form and a hundred bucks and you get,” she says. “It’s a very, very strenuous kind of process.” The hospital staff submitted a stack of documents 15 inches tall (yes, they measured) and hosted a weeklong site visit as part of the effort. “The Magnet designation is an indication that this is a good place for nurses to work,” Waters says. “So that’s really important, especially given the shortage of nurses and the competition for nursing staff.” Waters says the award is also a sign of excellent health care. Despite the accolades, GMH isn’t resting on its laurels. The birth center was the facility’s most recent major construction project, and a redesign of the emergency department wrapped up in February 2008. They are also working through a unit-by-unit renovation of their inpatient nursing unit, which is likely to be complete by the end of 2009. – Michaela Jackson I M AG E S G A S T O N C O U N T Y. C O M

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Sports & Recreation

Spreading the Love YOUNG, NEW BASEBALL MANAGER IS MAKING FANS OF EVERYONE

J

esse Cole loves baseball. The 23-year-old general manager of the Gastonia Grizzlies, Cole considers it his mission to spread that love to everyone in town. “My goal is to try and get everyone in the county excited about baseball,” he says. “My goal is to give the people in Gastonia a place to go during the summer, a place to have fun.” It’s true that his team was in last place in the Coastal Plains League last year, but he’s not wasting any time turning the ship around – for both the players and the fans. Cole believes the key to building a popular ball program is personal relationships. In November 2007, he made it his goal to meet every single businessperson in the community and share with them his enthusiasm about the team’s new direction. “Obviously, that’s lofty and maybe not attainable, but it’s what I try to do,” he says. “I feel like if you meet them and get them excited about what’s going on, it’s going to be a great summer here.” It’s not just about feeling good, though. Cole wants to win – badly. He’s traveled the country talking with potential players, college coaches and professional scouts to broaden

his roster, which now rests at 25 players. “I talk to parents left and right. I’ve talked to grandparents. I’m talking to everyone,” he says. “The better the team is, the more the community can really jump behind them. I want to win a championship, and I want everyone to get excited about this team that we bring to the field.” The Grizzlies also want to be known for what they contribute to the community off the field. Team players spend time working with Little League teams and staffing Boys and Girls Club and YMCA events. “The overall vision is to really be a great outlet for the community,” Cole says. “I couldn’t think of anything more fun than what we do. Honestly, I love, love coming to work every single day. And I don’t leave until late at night because I love being here.” Cole isn’t expecting anything less than a sellout crowd for opening night. “My goal is for everyone to feel the change in the environment, see the new atmosphere and say, ‘Wow, this is special,’ ” he says. “I think people this year are going to see things they never saw before in Gastonia.” – Michaela Jackson

Grizzlies General Manager Jesse Cole is setting his sights on sellout crowds and a winning team.

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PHOTO BY TODD BENNETT

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Education

Educational Engine BELMONT ABBEY’S MOTOR-SPORTS PROGRAM CATERS TO RACING INDUSTRY

A

uto racing is more than a major tourist and entertainment draw in the Southeast; it’s also big business. With that in mind, Belmont Abbey College has created a program of study to prepare students for working in the growing industry. The MotorSports Management program will allow students to declare a major in business with a concentration in motor-sports management. The first classes were offered in spring 2007, and school officials hope to graduate 20 to 25 students each year. “We’re preparing students to go to the various motor-sports companies, whether it’s a team, a track supplier or someone else in the industry, and have more knowledge than somebody who’s

just graduating with a general marketing or management degree,” says Tracy Rishel, the program’s director. “They’ll have the general business background all business majors have, but much more knowledge about how to apply it within the industry.” Rishel, who joined Belmont Abbey’s faculty to head the program, says that students will be required to complete three internships in the field, but there’s a lot of leeway within that structure. “They can be all over,” she says. “It can be a general media or marketing firm, as long as the primary portion of their business is focused on motorsports. We had one student last year that worked with Sam Bass Gallery. Who would have thought that somebody in this program would do that? But they

were looking for somebody, and their primary focus is motor-sports, so we supplied an intern to them.” The program, which is the first fouryear degree track of its kind in the country, has gotten a lot of attention from the motor-sports industry. It’s also proving to be a major draw for students around the country – not just from the Southeast, where NASCAR is king. “We’ve had students come in with a tremendous knowledge of motor-sports,” Rishel says. “Some actually race. And then we have some with little or no practical knowledge. This has given us a wide array of students, from all over the country and all ages and backgrounds. It’s quite a diverse group that we’ve attracted, which is a really strong bonus for the program.” Rishel came to Belmont Abbey from NC A&T in Greensboro, where she was involved in that school’s motor-sports technology program. Having worked on motor-sports-related curriculum, and through her involvement with the North Carolina Motorsports Education Coalition, she is prepared to run a program devoted solely to the industry and to work with the companies who will hire the graduates. “The motor-sports business community is very interested and very supportive,” she says. “We’ve had a tremendous number of people come in as speakers, and they’ve provided a lot of field trip and internship opportunities. It’s been very well received. Other colleges are developing programs like this, but we’re the only four-year program out there right now.” – Joe Morris A NASCAR class at Belmont Abbey

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By Leaps and Bounds $175 MILLION MEASURE ENSURES QUALITY SCHOOLS

G

etting voters to approve a bond referendum is never easy. But when the Gaston County Schools took their case to the public, they were met with a resounding success. In 2007, county voters approved the bond measure, which will build six new schools, renovate others and pay for a variety of additions and other system-wide upgrades. The school system is the seventh-largest in the state and has more than 33,000 students. The system has grown by more than 1,600 students in the past three years and is expected to grow by 16,000 over the next decade, says Kris Spivey, director of operations. With high schools at 113 percent of capacity and 116 portables in use to house students around the county, the new buildings are sorely needed. The bond will build one high school, two middle schools and three elementary schools. Hunter Huss High School, the county’s oldest, will be renovated and remodeled, while Stanley Middle, W. Blaine Beam Intermediate, Woodhill Elementary and McAdenville Elementary schools will receive additions to their facilities. District officials have been steadily collecting data regarding the county’s biggest growth areas. Based on this information, the majority of the county’s growth has been east of U.S. Highway 321. School officials are looking to that area for new school growth. Exact locations, however, have yet to be determined, Spivey says. – Joe Morris

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Visit Our Advertisers BB&T www.bbandt.com CaroMont Health www.caromont.org

Gaston County Economic Development Commission www.gaston.org Gaston Eye & Laser Center

Choice USA Beverage Co.

www.gastoneye.com

City of Gastonia www.cityofgastonia.com

Gaston Hospice

Community One Bank www.myyesbank.com

Holy Angels

Courtyard by Marriott www.carolinadiscountrooms.com/ newcomers Fidelity Bank www.fidelitybankshares.com

www.gastonhospice.org

www.holyangelsnc.org ShipOnSite www.shiponsitegastonia.com Sisco Fire & Safety The Schiele Museum

First National Bank www.ibankatfnb.com

of Natural History

Gaston College www.gaston.edu

Time Warner Cable

www.schielemuseum.org

www.twcarolina.com Gaston County Department of Tourism www.gastontourism.com

Watson Insurance www.watsoninsurance.com

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Community Profile

COMMUNITY GASTON COUNTY SNAPSHOT Gaston County stretches over 364 square miles of rolling hills and mountainous peaks. The highest point, known as Kings Mountain Pinnacle, reigns over the county at 1,705 feet above sea level.

CLIMATE Average annual precipitation 44 in. Average relative humidity, 54% Average temperature, 60 F

POPULATION 2006 estimate, 199,397

UTILITIES Electricity Duke Energy, (800) 777-9898 Natural Gas SCANA-PSNC Energy (877) 776-2427 Phone BellSouth, (800) 285-1134 Water and Sewer Contact the Gaston County Economic Development Commission, 825-4046

EDUCATION

MUSEUMS

Gaston County Schools 866-6100

American Military Museum 866-6068

Public schools, 52 Private schools, 16

C. Grier Beam Truck Museum 435-3072

Higher Education Belmont Abbey College (888) 222-0110, http://belmontabbey college.edu/

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 825-4490

Gaston College, 922-6200, www.gaston.edu

Gaston County Museum of Art and History, 922-7681 Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium 866-6900

GOLF COURSES

The United Arts Council of Gaston County 853-ARTS (2787)

Applecreek Golf Course 922-4440

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Briarcreek Golf Club 922-4208 Crowders Mountain Golf Club 739-7681 (800) 633-1729 Gastonia Municipal Golf Course 866-6945

MEDICAL FACILITY

Green Meadows Golf Course 827-9264

Caromont Health Care/Gaston Memorial Hospital, 834-2000

Linwood Springs Golf Club 867-1642

Gaston Regional Chamber 601 W. Franklin Blvd. Gastonia, NC 28052 Phone: (704) 864-2621 (800) 348-8461 Fax: (704) 854-8723 www.gastonchamber.com

Sources: www.gaston.org www.co.gaston.nc.us www.gastontourism.com www.cityofgastonia.com

I spy something green. Everyday moments can be learning moments with your kids. For more tips, visit bornlearning.org

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The area code for G aston Count y is 70 4 .


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Call today for your cataract evaluation. (704) 853-3937

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(704) 864-8010 Fax: (704) 864-8055 3060-2 E. Franklin Blvd. Gastonia, NC 28056 www.shiponsitegastonia.com

GASTON COU NT Y

2325 Aberdeen Blvd., Ste. A Gastonia, NC 28054 (704) 853-3937 820 Lower Dallas Hwy. Dallas, NC 28034 (704) 922-9808

I M AG E S G A S T O N C O U N T Y. C O M

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Images Gaston County, NC: 2008  

Gaston County – with 15 municipalities – is just west of Charlotte, in the southern Piedmont area of North Carolina. Its moderate climate an...

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