(December 31, 2020 Issue)
See more photos of the year on pages 6 and 7
By Alan Hodgealan@cfmedia.info
The second half of 2020 brought more social and economic challenges to folks everywhere, yet through it all, people found creative ways to cope with the difficulties and to look forward to better days ahead.
The July 9 issue of the BannerNews kicked off with a story highlighting the incredible career of First United Methodist Belmont Child Development Center teach Susan Clements who had been on the job for 39 years. That issue of the paper also looked at the outstanding athletic accomplishments of local senior citizen David Hostetler who once again raked in plenty of medals at the Senior Games. On the inside, the July 9 paper ran a series on the retirement of Montcross Chamber president Ted Hall.
The July 16 Banner News profiled First Baptist Belmont’s new pastor Andrew Renfroe. Major upgrades at Stowe Park was also a front-page piece. Improvements at the park included a nice new pavilion for outdoor concerts and other events. The paper also ran a story that week recalling the 50th anniversary of the Love Valley Rock Festival - NC’s version of Woodstock.
The July 23rd BannerNews visited the Mt. Holly Community Garden for a story on all the good things growing and going on there. COVID related news that week was the fact that both the Cleveland County and NC Mountain State fairs were called off. In Belmont, a drive by farewell to retiring Queen of Apostles Catholic Church pastor Father Frank Cancro was held and lots of photos from it made the pages.
July 30 came along and the BannerNews for that week spotlighted the lunch truck program named Our Daily Bread that saw Karen Leatherman drive through neighborhoods giving out lunches to kids and sharing Bible stories as well. Local history got a mention that week with a piece on Jack Page who had accumulated a large collection of Native American artifacts on his rambles years ago on the South Point peninsula.
The month of August started out with BannerNews dated the 6th and a front page piece on Piedmont Homestead organic farm near Stanley. The farm is the brainchild and dream of Mike and Kristina Lore and raises all kinds of crops without chemicals. Another piece that week featured a page of pictures from a cool custom car show that was held at Community Pentecostal Center in Stanley. The rides ran the gamut from old timey to fast and modern. On the schoolhouse front, the paper that week also ran a series of photos highlighting East Gaston High and the makeover to its front entrance.
The August 13 BannerNews made a visit to the Cramerton Historical Society Museum to get a look at the work underway there. Another story that week visited First Baptist Mt. Holly to get an update on the nearly complete restoration project following the fire from several years back. On the COVID side, NC Gov. Cooper extended his Phase 2 rules.
August 20 would have normally been the start of new school year, but as the BannerNews reported, it did not happen as usual due to COVID restrictions and precautions. On the bright side, Cramerton Girl Scout Kathryn Cupp built a mini-food pantry and stocked it with canned goods. The cupboard is at Cramerton City Hall. The paper that week also announced a big new development coming to North Belmont on the site of the former Acme mill.
August 27 wrapped up that month in the paper and it was topped by a story on the incredible WWII adventures of Polish-born Stanley Dudko and his wife Jasia. Both of them escaped the Nazis and came to Belmont where he was a teacher at Belmont Abbey and she was a businesswoman. That same paper also spotlighted the Millican Pictorial Museum and the 20,000+ archival photos Allen Millican had gathered from all over the region. School news that week looked at the new Grab and Go lunch program where folks could drive by their school and get a bagged lunch for the kids.
September came along and the Banner News issue dated the 3rd looked at plans for the third annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade. The event had drawn large crowds to downtown Mt. Holly the previous two years but plans for 2020 were altered a bit to cope with COVID. On the schools front, another article spotlighted renovation work at a number of local schools. Bond money from 2018 was being used to fund the work.
The September 10 BannerNews had a great story on Gertrude Harris who had just turned 100 years old. She had lived in East Belmont most of her life and still kept house there. On the municipal front, the City of Belmont’s CityWorks building project was nearly complete. The project converted a 40 year old former mill into a modern facility for city staff and cost $34.8 million.
The September 17 BannerNews looked at plans for the City of Belmont’s new Parks and Rec. facility that is also slated to be built in front of the CityWorks structure. The 45,000 sq. ft. building will house a gym, offices, workout rooms and more. Good news for the September 17 Banner News included the information that Gaston Schools had achieved an 88 percent grad rate. Over in Mt. Holly, the fire department held a special COVID mask giveaway event.
The month of September came to an end with the BannerNews edition for the 24th. That issue visited the new St. Joseph College Seminary in North Belmont and its incredible main building and campus. Another outing that week went to Shining Hope Farms near Stanley where veterans were receiving care via hippotherapy- therapeutic horse riding. In Belmont, the fire department took delivery of a new $600,000 fire engine that was sorely needed.
Autumn and October rolled along and the BannerNews issue for the first of that month saw an article asking if Abe Lincoln’s mom Nancy Hanks had lived in Belmont for a while. To this day a stone marker in the Pinstowe subdivision marks the spot where her uncle Dickie’s cabin once stood and she is said to have spent a spell there before Abe was born. Another article that week looked at our area’s hurricane history including Hugo and Irma. A big void in the October papers was the lack of football game photos due to COVID.
The October 8 BannerNews took a look at the new mural that had been created on the side of the Cramerton fire department. The mural featured the town’s logo and a goat in a canoe. In Belmont, Muddy River Distillery was recognized for having earned a national award for the quality of its rum. Owners and founder Caroline and Robbie Delaney started their business on a shoestring and have built it up to a huge success.
October 15 came around and the BannerNews that week featured a piece on the Brevard Station Museum in Stanley and the treasure trove of historical items there. Another article looked at the CJB Reid House in Belmont where Professor Charles Jesse Reid had lived around 1920. The house is next door to where Reid High used to be. Another article that week explained how the 2020 Christmas Town 5K race would have to be a virtual event due to COVID concerns.
October 22 had several upbeat stories including an update on the Cramerton Historical Society’s artifact collection efforts. Another piece that week had an artistic flair and covered the outdoor painting event in Mt. Holly called “Plein Air Paint Out”. The event featured works by local artists who had created them outdoors and then put them up for display and sale at the Mt. Holly Farmer’s market pavilion.
October 2020 wrapped up with the BannerNews dated the 29th. That issue focused on Mt. Holly city manager Danny Jackson who had announced his retirement after being with the city since 1987. The third annual Mt. Holly Lantern Parade took place and BannerNews was there taking photos of the incredible and artistic lanterns that been created with a circus theme. On a different note - NC Gov. Roy Cooper issued another order continuing Phase 3 COVID restrictions for at least three more weeks.
The November 12 BannerNews looked at the recent election and its results. Local results were tabulated quickly, but the presidential election not so quickly and as you know is till being wrangled over. In Stanley, a story there looked at the naming of the new Blacksnake Road bridge for USMC Cpl. Nic O’Brien who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2011. In Belmont, the Parks and Rec. Dept. got a new and much needed activity bus for a cool $98,000.
Moving along, the November 18th BannerNews featured artist Irisol Gonzalez and the great mural she was creating in the CityWorks building. The mural traces Belmont’s history from its early days to the present time in a wide variety of images and colors. That same issue saw coverage of the Cramerton Veterans Day event. Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Larry Rick was the main speaker.
The November 25 BannerNews ran a good story taking a look at the installation of stained glass windows at First Baptist Mt. Holly. The beautiful windows are one of the last phases of the church’s post-fire reconstruction. In Belmont, an article profiled work being done at VFW Post 144 by Boy Scout Troop 56 member Jesse Whaley to beautify the place for his Eagle project. On the inside pages, a photo spread featured the Lowell River Sweep cleanup where volunteers picked up a lot of trash along the South Fork River.
December 3 came along and the BannerNews that week featured a story on local beauty queens and the fact that they had won some valuable scholarship funds. Another article that week took a ride with Gaston Schools lunch truck that was delivering lunches to kids in several local apartment complexes. An inside article passed on the word from Gov. Cooper that folks needed to wear their COVID masks at all times. Good news that week came in the form of three GEMS employees getting awards for resuscitating a heart attack patient.
December 10 rolled up and the lead story that week was the announcement that Kevin Krouse had been named as the City of Belmont assistant manager. That same issue also saw photos from the reverse Christmas parade in Belmont. It was the parade that wasn’t a parade but was a parade. Also that week, as in years past, the BannerNews was on the scene at the annual Toy Run for Kids that started in Ranlo. Hundreds of motorcyclists gave out toys to kids and a great time was had by all.
The December 17 BannerNews covered two somber stories - the death of Mt. Holly police officer Tyler Herndon who was killed in the line of duty on December 11, and Rev. Charles Reid who had recently passed away from health issues. The bright spot that week was a profile of the Keep Belmont Beautiful organization.
December drew to a close and the issue dated the 23rd ran a story on Sharon Hodge and her upcoming retirement after serving banking customers in Belmont for 48 years. The inside pages of that paper also ran some photos from Lowell’s reverse Christmas parade which did a lot to lift the spirits of folks after a year that had been a trying year at best.