Banner-News 5-14-20

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Gaston County’s

The Banner News /

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• Belmont • Cramerton • Lowell • McAdenville • Mount Holly • Stanley

Thursday, May 14, 2020

How Apple Orchard Farm is coping with these difficult days By Alan Hodge

It’s no secret that small businesses of all types have been dealing with a variety of challenges during recent weeks and that includes farms large and small. Art Duckworth has been operating his Apple Orchard Farm at 640 Mariposa Rd. near Stanley since 1972. He owns 13 acres and has 65 acres acres of family land available. Duckworth is a seasoned and scientific

farmer who raises black Angus cattle, Tamworth Berkshire hogs, and keeps bees. He sells the beef, pork, and honey from his home. Duckworth’s farming credentials are many. A few include being a NC Certified meat handler and NC Certified beekeper. He won Farmer of the Year for Gaston County 2012 and was one of the top five finalist for that designation at the state level. He also served on the Farm Bureau for 20 years. The current COVID19 sit-

uation has changed the way Duckworth does business with his customers. His operation is a NC Certified farm with voluntary biosecurity protocols. “I used to let my regular customers come in the house and select their meat or honey,” he said. “Now, they call me in advance and I meet them in the driveway. They tell me what they want and I go inside, get it, bring it out to their car, and away they go. I am taking every See FARM, Page 4

Chuncky the quarter horse and Art Duckworth at Apple Orchard Farm near Stanley. Photo by Alan Hodge

Chappy Pitts is a prince of pen makers Plans for new Belmont Parks and Rec. Center moving forward

By Alan Hodge

It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, and in the case of the custom made pens by Kevin “Chappy” Pitts of the Iron Station community near Stanley, they are beautiful as well. Pitts creates pens and other items primarily as a hobby. His “shop” is a converted, open air, former popup camper in his front yard. During inclement weather, he has tarp sides he can attach to enclose the arrangement. The equipment he uses to make his pens and other handcrafted things is an eclectic blend of hand me down and economically procured lathes, saws, and grinders. The wood that Pitts uses to make his pens comes from a variety of sources. Some comes from whiskey barrels with the aroma still wafting out of the wood. Brands include Jameson, Captain Morgan, Old Granddad, and

By Alan Hodge

Kevin “Chappy “ Pitts cutting out another piece of exotic wood for one of his handcrafted pens. Photo by Alan Hodge Four Roses. Pens made from whiskey brands come with a certificate of authenticity naming the source. Other chunks come from as far away as the Holy Land and Greece. BannerNews

contributor and big Chicago Cubs fan Bill Ward thinks the best one is a pen made from authentic Wrigley field seat wood. After fashioning the outer part of the pen on a lathe,

Pitts finishes the product, depending on the barrel style, with the appropriate pen kit. On some pens he laser etches designs and logos. See PITTS, Page 3

Back in 1951, AfricanAmerican poet Langston Hughes wrote a work entitled A Dream Deferred. Even though the theme wasn’t about a new Parks and Rec. Center for Belmont, the basic idea of waiting a long time for something good to happen fits because the city has been in dire need of one for many years. But that wait is in the planning stages of ending. Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe talked about the progress being made on getting a new, 40,000sq.ft. center built on the sloping ground on E. Catawba St. between the new municipal center building and Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park. “We are entering the design phase of the new recre-

ation center,” Stowe said. “A new center was number one on our list of Parks and Recreation Master Plan projects.” Currently, Belmont uses the J. Paul Ford Recreation Center on E. Woodrow Ave. as its headquarters. This decades old structure only has room for a few offices and a linoleum-floored space in the center for things such as dance lessons and meetings. “For our recreation programs we have been using larger spaces in churches and schools,” Stowe said. “The current center is very limited.” Stowe has been doing some scouting to see what other municipalities have in the way of facilities. He’s roamed over North and South Carolina, and closer to home in Stanley, Mt. Holly, Cramerton, Gastonia, and Dallas. See REC. CENTER, Page 2