Chief bill harris 2
Bill Harris

Catawba Indian Nation to break ground on casino Wednesday

The Catawba Indian Nation held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new, state-of-the art casino development project today, Wednesday, July 22, at 10:30 am, at 245 Dixon School Road in Kings Mountain, off I-85 at Exit 5.

The event was a celebration for the Catawba Indian Nation and the surrounding community as work begins on this important and long-awaited economic development project. Through construction and completion, the project will employ 4,000 North Carolinians from the surrounding region.

Speakers include Catawba Indian Nation Chief Bill Harris, Delaware North, Gaming President E. Brian Hansberry, Cleveland County Commissioners Chair Susan Allen, and Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler.

Masks are required, and social distancing measures will be in effect. We will be adhering to North Carolina's COVID19 Restrictions on outdoor event capacity.
Marilynsellers newsmall
Marilyn Sellers

City clarifies purchase of land in 2015

By Loretta Cozart
Last week, the Herald reported on two parcels of land purchased by the City of Kings Mountain in 2015 in order to provide utilities to NTE Energy, now known as Carolina Power Partners, LLC. Documentation provided by City of Kings Mountain shows the city billed NTE Energy, and NTE Energy paid the city a month later and before the property switched hands.

In a phone call with Kings Mountain City Manager Marilyn Sellers on Monday, July 20, Sellers explained the transaction saying, “We had an agreement with NTE that the city would purchase the property and they (NTE) would, in turn, reimburse us. What happened was that it became a pass through. A payment was received by the city from NTE, and we City paid for the two parcels. We didn’t use taxpayer dollars and the closing fees were included in their payment.”

Reviewing the city’s ledger sheet, City of Kings Mountain billed NTE Energy for $119,723.25 on July 7, 2015 and check was received from NTE Energy in that amount on August 3, 2015. The deed was executed on September 1, 2015 by Atty. Neisler and recorded with the Register of Deeds office on September 3, 2015.

Sellers explained the upset bid process. “Anytime we get a bid on a property, we, as staff, in turn put that on the council agenda to let them know we received a bid,” she said. “When we accept the bid, it starts the process. And, we don’t have to accept it (the bid) after a month. That’s up to council.”

“As for the property having no value, ‘of no use’ would be a better term,” Sellers said. “We looked at several options for the property and decided it was of no use to us. We purchased the 17.11 acre parcel for $69,723.25. We did have the property appraised at $125,000 and we got a bid for $150,000. We are hoping for higher offers and the first bid starts the process. It is up to council and, in the end, they may decide they don’t want to sell it.”
Roy cooper 2
Roy Cooper

NC K-12 public schools require safety measures to re-open

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen were joined today by education and health leaders to announce health and safety plans for K-12 public schools for the new school year. Schools will open for in-person instruction under an updated Plan B that requires face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols.

“The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s’ health, safety and emotional development,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a difficult time for families with hard choices on every side. I am committed to working together to ensure our students and educators are as safe as possible and that children have opportunities to learn in the way that is best for them and their families.”

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit outlines the updated requirements for Plan B. Districts may choose to operate under Plan C, which calls for remote learning only, and health leaders recommend schools allow families to opt into all-remote learning. Modifications have been made to Plan B since it was released in June to make it more protective of public health.

“After looking at the current scientific evidence and weighing the risks and benefits, we have decided to move forward with today’s balanced, flexible approach which allows for in-person instruction as long as key safety requirements are in place in addition to remote learning options.” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “We will continue to follow the science and data and update recommendations as needed. We ask every North Carolinian to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering when in public, Wait 6 feet apart, Wash your hands.”

Governor Cooper also announced that the state will provide at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and school staff member in public schools. In June, the state provided packs of personal protective equipment to schools that included a two-month supply of thermometers, surgical masks, face shields and gowns for school nurses and delegated staff who provide health care to students.

“Educators and stakeholders across our state have worked tirelessly to reopen our school buildings safely for our students, teachers and staff. Today, we take another critical step towards that goal. We also know families need to choose the option that is best for their children, so all school districts will provide remote learning options,” said Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

“In-person education is important for children, and it happens in the context of a community. This plan strikes the right balance between health and safety and the benefits of having children learn in the classroom. We must all continue with proven measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission like wearing a face covering, keeping distance between people, and frequent hand and surface cleanings so we can move closer to safely re-opening public schools,” said Dr. Theresa Flynn, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a practicing pediatrician who serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Pediatric Society and joined today’s announcement.

Under Plan B, schools are required to follow key safety measures that include:

• Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12

• Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary

• Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks

• Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students

• Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly

• Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom

• Discontinue activities that bring together large groups

• Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups

• Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

• Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way

• Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible

• Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria

• Discontinue activities that bring together large groups

• Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

More details can be found in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Read the Screening Reference Guide for schools and the Infection Control and PPE Guidance.

In addition to the announcement about school plans, Governor Cooper shared that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer at Home Phase 2 after the current Executive Order expires on Friday, July 17.

“As we continue to see rising case numbers and hospitalizations, we will stay in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks,” said Governor Cooper. “Our re-opening priority is the school building doors, and in order for that to happen we have to work to stabilize our virus trends.”

“While all school re-entry plans have their challenges during this pandemic, our superintendents, principals, and other school leaders will continue to prioritize student and staff safety in reopening schools under the cautious parameters outlined today by the Governor,” said North Carolina Association of School Administrators Executive Director Katherine Joyce. “We look forward to continuing work with the Governor, the General Assembly, and other state leaders to ensure our schools have the support needed to get student learning back on track in the safest manner possible in each local district.”

“I recognize Governor Cooper faced a very difficult decision. The good news is that local school boards can now begin to officially put their school reopening plans in motion,” said Brenda Stephens, President of the North Carolina School Board Association. “While the current situation may not be ideal for all, I’m confident North Carolina’s educators will continue to provide students with the best education possible.

 
Zoning 245 dixon school road
The area highlighted on the map is property owned by E5 Holdings, LLC and they have asked for a rezoning. The large parcel east of the highlighted property is owned by the city and is currently open for upset bid. The smaller property to the south, between E5 Holdings and the I-85 Service Road, is property owned by Trent Testa, who has also requested rezoning. Photo by Cleveland County GIS

Planning and Zoning Board meets: Board recommends City Council approve 2 rezoning requests

By Loretta Cozart

Kings Mountain’s Planning and Zoning Board met on Tuesday July 14 to discuss several zoning requests along Dixon School Road near the I-85 interchange.

There was a quorum present and all members of the board were in attendance: CCETJ Chairman Doug Lawing, Vice Chairman Ron Humphries, Todd Wilson, Chris Jolly, Ronnie Franks, Joseph Allen, Maury Williams, Bobby Elliott, Donald Atkins, Renee Bost, and Audrey Cody.

After Stuart Gilbert updated to the board on the Comprehensive Plan and shared a PowerPoint presentation regarding Consistency Statements, the board addressed the two matters of action on the agenda.

Property owner Trent Testa submitted Zoning Request Z-1-6-20, for parcel number 11658 at 259 Dixon School Road in Kings Mountain and asked his property to be rezoned from light industrial to general business. Testa did not attend the meeting.

The second item considered was Zoning Request Z-2-6-20 submitted by members of E5 Holdings, LLC, Eddie Holbrook, Doug Brown, Stuart LeGrand, for parcel number 11650 at 245 Dixon School Road in Kings Mountain, asking the property to be rezoned from light industrial to general business. Nobody representing E5 Holdings, LLC attended.

Prior to public input, Gilbert shared that E5 Holdings had requested annexing paperwork late Tuesday afternoon. He explained, “E5 Holdings wants annexed into the city because City of Kings Mountain has adjacent annexed property.”

Two Kings Mountain residents who live nearby spoke. Marcus Howze of 212 Dixon School Road addressed the board asking, “How will this rezoning affect us?” Chairman Lawing explained, “It should not impact taxes or zoning at this time.” Howze then asked for clarification and Chairman Lawing assured him, “The only parcels impacted are the two parcels we discussed.”

Pricilla Dunlap of Tin Mine Road spoke next, questioning Chairman Lawing’s response to Howze’s, using the phrase, “… at this time.” Lawing explained, “Cities cannot annex properties in the ETJ unless the property owners request annexation.”

Board member Renee Bost made the motion to delay the rezoning decision on both properties until next month. Chairman Doug Lawing explained to the board that if nobody seconded the motion, it would fail. He then asked for a second and a second was not given, so the motion did not carry.

Board member Maury Williams made a motion to recommend approval of both zoning requests and the board voted 10 – 1 in favor of the motion. Board member Renee Bost cast the dissenting vote.

A motion was then made by board member Ron Humphries to send the recommendations to approve both requests on to city council for both the Testa and E5 Holdings, LLC properties, and the board voted 10 – 1 in favor of the motion. Board member Renee Bost cast the dissenting vote.
Rainbow

Rainbow over KM

Eric Pardo took this photo last Friday as storms passed through town and posted it on the What’s Up Kings Mountain!’s Facebook page. According to Eric, “I was just at the right place at the right time.”
7 15 2020 4 32 20 pm 9336449
KM designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program

KM designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program

The N.C. Main Street Center & Rural Planning Center at the NC Department of Commerce announced that 48 North Carolina communities have been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program. Accredited status is Main Street America’s highest tier of recognition, signifying a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and showcasing a proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach.

“We are so proud that the City of Kings Mountain is one of the 48 North Carolina communities that has earned Main Street America’s national Accreditation,” said City Manager Marilyn Sellers. “This recognition illustrates the City’s commitment to economic development, downtown revitalization and historic preservation.”

“North Carolina’s accredited Main Street programs have worked diligently to meet the standards established by the National Main Street Center, and we are pleased to see them recognized on a national level for their achievement,” said Anthony M. Copeland, N.C. Secretary of Commerce. “Local Main Street programs across our state work every day to bring jobs and businesses to their downtowns, which strengthens the overall economy of their communities and, in turn, that of our entire state.”

The North Carolina Main Street communities that have earned accreditation for their 2019 performance are Albemarle, Belmont, Bessemer City, Burlington, Cherryville, Clinton, Concord, Eden, Edenton, Elizabeth City, Elkin, Elon, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Goldsboro, Hendersonville, Hickory, Kings Mountain, Lenoir, Laurinburg, Lexington, Marion, Monroe, Morehead City, Morganton, New Bern, Newton, North Wilkesboro, Oxford, Reidsville, Roanoke Rapids, Roxboro, Rutherfordton, Salisbury, Sanford, Shelby, Smithfield, Spruce Pine, Statesville, Sylva. Tarboro, Tryon, Wake Forest, Washington. Waynesville, Waxhaw, Williamston, and Wilson.

The performance standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street community’s application of the Main Street Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determine the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

“Earning Accreditation for our Main Street program makes the City of Kings Mountain even more attractive for residential and business development,” said City of Kings Mountain’s Community Planning and Economic Development Director Stuart Gilbert. “The City was recently named as the Healthiest Housing Market in the country and these types of distinctions are important to families, businesses and investors.”

“The NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center is proud of this year’s accredited communities,” said Liz Parham, Director of the NC Main Street & Rural Planning Center. “These communities have worked hard to build sustainable organizations, which are able to create vibrant downtowns that can pivot quickly during a crisis like COVID-19. We commend these communities and their volunteers on these accomplishments and look forward to seeing their continued success.”

“This is another great honor for the City of Kings Mountain,” said Mayor Scott Neisler. “First, SmartAsset.com, a web-based financial technology firm, named Kings Mountain as the Healthiest Housing Market in the United States,” Mayor Neisler added. “Now, Main Street America has recognized our downtown revitalization efforts as one of the top 48 in the state,”

Since 1980, The North Carolina Main Street program has generated $3.25 billion in private and public investment. In 2019, North Carolina Main Street downtown districts generated 345 net new businesses, 148 expansions of existing businesses, 2,211 net new jobs, 378 façade rehabilitations, 297 building rehabilitations, and logged more than 150,000 volunteer hours.

The success of the Downtown District is a partnership requiring strategic planning and financial investment from both the public and private sectors.

“The leadership of the City of Kings Mountain and the dedicated property and business owners in Downtown Kings Mountain have worked hard to create the type of positive changes that brought forth the National Main Street America Accreditation,” said Main Street Coordinator Susan Matheson. “Being an Accredited Main Street community is an honor to achieve and we appreciate everyone who has helped us to reach this milestone.”

The City of Kings Mountain has been intentional in creating appropriate improvements that maintain the historic integrity of our downtown structures such as the building restorations along South Battleground Avenue and those currently underway on West Mountain Street. The City’s strategic planning helped guide the development of new amenities such as the Amphitheater and updated Streetscape along Cansler Street.

“We are proud to recognize this year’s Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $85.43 billion in new public and private investment, generated 672,333 net new jobs and 150,079 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 295,348 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Nationally, Main Street America communities generated $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment, helped open 6,466 net new businesses, facilitated the creation of 32,316 net new jobs, and supported the rehabilitation of 10,412 buildings in 2019.
— KM Herald
Screen shot 2020 07 17 at 9.23.22 am
Photo taken of May 26 City Council meeting in which they voted to annex the two parcels into the corporate limits. Photo by Loretta Cozart

When a gift is not a gift

By Loretta Cozart

The Herald reported on actions taken during the May 26 City Council Meeting in the June 3 edition of the Kings Mountain Herald, sharing the discussion of councilmembers who described two parcels of land as being gifted to the city. The Herald has since learned the land had instead been purchased by the city in September 2015.

On May 26, 2020, City of Kings Mountain held a Public Hearing before the annexation of two parcels of city-owned land located near Dixon School Road and across from the planned casino, being described as “New Lot 1,” consisting of .71 acres and “New Lot 2,” consisting of 17.11 acres as shown on a plat recorded in Plat Book 38 at Page 59 of the Cleveland County Registry.

Discussion by councilmembers followed, and Councilman Jimmy West asked, “How did we acquire the property and how long have we had it?” City Planner Stuart Gilbert replied, “We acquired it on September 1, 2015.”

Councilman Jay Rhodes added saying, “Albemarle (Rockwood Lithium) gave us a large portion of it. And a family gave us the other small lot.” Mayor Neisler added, “We got it so we could provide power to the NTE (Energy Center) project.”

However, the property was not gifted to the city as described by city council. The two properties were purchased by City of Kings Mountain for a total of $119,723.25 as noted in the July 28, 2015 City Council Agenda.

Item I of that agenda reads, “Authorize Mayor to execute documents purchasing 0.71 acres of the tract of land owned by PMC Holdings, Inc., DB 1473 P. 777, in the amount of $50,000 plus closing costs and 17.11 acres of the tract of land owned by Rockwood Lithium, Inc., subsidiary of Albemarle Corporation; DB 1636 P. 19, in the amount of $69,723.25 plus closing costs for the purpose of utility infrastructure to and from the NTE Energy Center.”

According to Cleveland County GIS, the 17.11 acres of land, identified as Parcel 63027, was sold to City of Kings Mountain by Rockwood Lithium for $69,723.25 plus closing costs. The current land value is listed as $188,210. The second lot, Parcel 62997, was sold to the City of Kings Mountain by Pyramid Motor Company, Inc. for $50,000 plus closing costs and the current land value is $4,259.00.

The Herald called City Attorney Mickey Corry to discuss the gifted land. Atty. Corry, in turn, had Assistant City Manager Nick Hendricks call the Herald. When told that the city had not been gifted the land as described during in the May city council meeting, Hendricks replied, “Let me explain to you how the process works. We needed a 100-foot easement to supply NTE water, electric, and gas when they built their plant. So, we went to Rockwell Lithium to get the easement and they wouldn’t sell it to us unless we purchased the entire parcel.”

He went on to say, “To service NTE, we had to put in the infrastructure that cost the city a lot of money. Monthly, every 30-days, the city bills NTE for the infrastructure and utilities. In that invoice they also pay us for the land we purchased, essentially making it a gift because we considered ourselves gifted to have received it.”

Henricks also explained that the land is filled with 100-foot drop-offs and the city considers the land of no value. When asked, “If that is the case, why did the city bother annexing the land into the city last month?," he replied, “I don’t know. That is a question for City Manager Marilyn Sellers or Mayor Neisler. I can’t answer that.”

One month after annexing the property, during the June 30 city council meeting, councilmembers approved “a Motion adopt a Resolution to receive an Offer to Purchase in the amount of $150,000 from E-5 Holdings, LLC (Eddie Holbrook, David Brown, and Stuart LeGrand) for property consisting of 17 acres, more or less, and being located on Dixon School Road and authorize advertisement for upset bid process.” The land was neither identified by a street address nor a parcel number. Without discussion, council approved the motion.

When the Herald asked Hendricks, “Is the land that you discussed in item 15 on the June 30 agenda the same 17.11 acres purchased in 2015?,” Hendricks replied, “It is one and the same, but the city is keeping a 100-foot easement to NTE.” When queried why the property wasn’t identified by address and parcel number as it should have been,” he replied, “It must have been an oversight by the City Clerk. You can call and ask her.”

Legally, City of Kings Mountain purchased 17.11 acres of land in 2015. It was not a gift. On May 28, the city annexed that property into its corporate limits. One month later, city council approved authorizing advertisement for upset bid process for this same property without discussion, at the urging of E5 Holdings. And, now, because the city annexed that property, the city is legally required by state law to provide all the utilities and services to that property that it provides to all owners within their corporate limits.
7 15 2020 4 35 39 pm 7829034
Kings Mountain native Kiamesha Young is in the process of purchasing McGill’s Service station. Photo provided

Kiamesha Young buys McGill’s Service Station

By Loretta Cozart

Kings Mountain native Kiamesha Young is buying McGill’s Service Station at 100 E. King Street in Kings Mountain. The building was constructed in 1924 by Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and the McGill family ran the service station from 1926 to 1992. The McGill’s were well-known for their commitment to service, drawing loyal customers to their business for 66 years.

At the June 30 Kings Mountain City Council meeting, property owner Joe Champion introduced Young as the new buyer and asked them to delay the Order to Repair or Demolish the building to allow her time for due diligence.

Young currently lives in Charlotte and has a degree in mathematics from UNC-Charlotte. She taught middle and high school math before entering into the real estate business. She has been in business in for 15-years and is no stranger to hard work. “I am very hands-on. My whole family is from Kings Mountain and we are hard workers,” she said. “That work ethic was instilled in us by our grandfather, Leroy Young. He laid pipe for Gaston County until he retired. We work with our hands and we don’t wait on anybody to do anything for us that we can get out there and do ourselves,” she added.

Young explained that she is transitioning into the contractor’s side from the real estate industry in this project. “I have a vision for the property and have a building contractor’s license, so I have the resources to make sure the work gets done, and done well,” she said. “I own the Y3 Work Bar in Gaston County, so I understand the kind of hard work that is required.”

The Order to Repair or Demolish, issued by City of Kings Mountain, cited four primary issues with the building: (1) Loose and overhanging objects or leaning objects that constitute a danger of falling on persons on the premises, (2) Exterior of the building is not in good repair or free from deterioration, (3) Broken glass, loose wood, crumbling brick and similar hazards, (4) Flaking and peeling exterior surfaces need to be scraped and repainted.

On Monday, Moon builders began repairing the brick, cornice, and windows of the Service Station. “We want to preserve the history by restoring the building to its original look on the exterior,” Young added. “The inside will definitely have a more modern feel. The two bays will most likely become conference space and a lounge area, with glass doors in the front. Features we want to keep include the wall safe and the service pits.”

Once completed, Young will move her real estate business into the building. “Right now, I am pretty much a one-man show. But my goal with this building is to provide opportunities and jobs in the city through real estate.“

Like the McGill family, who developed a loyal customer base through hard work, Kiamesha Young intends to continue that commitment to quality service at 100 E. King Street in the heart of Kings Mountain, and she invites other entrepreneurs to bring their business to town.

“For people like me who moved away and started businesses outside of Kings Mountain, I would say that it is time for them to bring their resources and talents home. It’s just time.” Young added, “Kings Mountain is growing and there is a place for us now. There are opportunities for us to make a difference.”

Joe Champion and Steve Wallace purchased McGill’s Service Station in 2005, along with several other properties that had once housed or distributed fuel products. “People kept telling me that reclaiming these properties couldn’t be done. But it can!”

“Cleanup on the service station property took a substantial investment, but it was worth it to save this piece of our history,” Champion said. “People offered to help us but couldn’t come up with the money. The hardest thing for people to understand was that work had been done, but they couldn’t see it because it was below the ground.”

On December 4, 2017, NC Department of Environmental Quality, UST Division, Waste Management, Asheville Regional office issued a No Further Action determination letter for 100 E. King Street. That decision came with a deed restriction designating the site as only suitable for industrial/commercial businesses, due to groundwater contamination “exceeding residential” Maximum Soil Contaminant Concentration Levels (MSCCs) from petroleum in the ground. Left undisturbed, that petroleum poses no issue, according to state guidelines.


 
Screen shot 2020 07 14 at 2.05.15 pm
Ed Blackburn’s beehives. Photos Shirley Brutko

Blackburn’s bees help apple trees flourish

By Loretta Cozart 

Kings Mountain banker, Ed Blackburn, has always gardened. Ten to fifteen years ago he added heirloom apples to his repertoire, planting trees at his home and in his family’s apple orchard in Todd, NC. He has several apple varieties, including Early Transparent, Virginia Beauty, Green Cheese, and Johnson’s Fine Winter.

“The family orchard had been neglected, so I took on the project, cleaning it up and planting new trees.” Between his orchard in the mountains and at his home, Blackburn now has 13 apple trees.

His orchard and his garden have kept him busy. However, his garden just hasn’t produced as he would like recently. “This year is the sorriest garden I’ve ever had,” Blackburn said. “Memorial Day rains washed most of the garden away. I was only able to save maybe 40% of my green beans.”

Over the years, Blackburn had considered keeping bees. “I’ve always had an interest in beehives, because I love honey. But I just kept putting it off. In December 2019, I read that the Gaston County Bee Association was offering a bee class and decided to take it. I took the class in January and by April 15, I had my first hive.”

Blackburn now has six hives and has named them after places from his family history. He also named his queen bees after women in his family. “The Watauga hive is in honor of my mother; I named the queen Betty to honor her. My mother’s family is from Mabel, North Carolina, located in Watauga County.”

The remaining five hives were named in the same fashion: Texas, Scottie; Mabel, Lillian (Blackburn’s maternal grandmother); Red Carolina (named for Carolina Freight because his dad, mother, and sister worked there), the queen is named Ms. Beam; Santa Fe, Rosa; and Blue Ridge. He hasn’t named that queen yet. “I’m working on it though,” Blackburn said. In addition to naming each hive and queen, Blackburn and his family have painted the hives to match their place names.

What started as a hobby out of a love of honey has blossomed in ways Blackburn never imagined. “My apple trees are producing far more than they did last year. My blueberry bushes are producing two to three times better. My Raspberries have just exploded in growth, too. And those green beans are also producing well. It is amazing.”

“An apple tree normally produces 250 apples, but with the bees pollinating them they are producing 1,200 apples each. I have two Early Transparent trees that are 12-years old now. The fruit ripens in early June. So far, between my wife and family members, we’ve put up 50 – 60 jars of apples from those trees alone. We have a lot of apples.”

Blackburn suggests taking the Gaston County Bee Class if you are interested in keeping bees. “I am a firm believer that people learn by observing, reading, and being taught. And, when you finish the class, you are assigned a mentor to help you for a year. I highly recommend taking the class, as opposed just to watching videos on YouTube. Mentors help you apply the knowledge from class in your own hives and their experience is invaluable.”
Screen shot 2020 07 14 at 2.15.24 pm

N.F. McGill and Son’s service station served KM residents for 66-years

By Loretta Cozart 

On February 2, 1926, Norman Fuller McGill took management of N. F. McGill and Son’s Standard Oil Station at the corner of E. King Street and N. Piedmont Avenue in Kings Mountain. Many people remember the building that housed a family business for three generations and the way the McGill family made them feel. The McGill family appreciated their customers, and the customers knew it.

In a story in the Herald written by Lib Stewart in 1976, McGill shared that he “made the motion at a city board meeting in the early 1920s that resulted in the rezoning of the Ella Harmon property for construction of a one-room service station.” He had no idea at the time that just two-years later he would become the operator of the station for Standard Oil Co., then Esso and later Exxon in 1972. 

When the station opened, there were few other service stations in town. One was located at the intersection of Battleground and W. Mountain Street, where the Cleveland County Chamber once kept an office. That station was operated by I.G. Patterson and Charlie Falls. W.A. Mauney Stores was open at that time and remained so until 1929, the year Andrew Mauney passed. 

Other downtown stores of that era were Kiser and Mauney, Carpenter Brothers Hardware, and Plonk Brothers. All those businesses are gone now but for the buildings that once housed them. The same is true for McGill and Son’s service station.

McGill shared in the article that Zeb Means, son of a preacher, was a loyal employee who worked for him before N.F. McGill, Jr. was born. He sometimes washed as many as 25 cars on Saturdays in an open wash pit beside the station.

One of McGill’s busiest days was the day in 1932 when President Herbert Hoover came to town for the celebration at the Battleground, before it became a National Military Park. “I had a front row seat,” McGill said. “But the crowds who lined the streets from the depot (then located downtown) and streets by the station did not cheer Hoover. There was only one man who did,” he said. The nation was in the throughs of the Great Depression.

That day, McGill had a continuous stream of cars stopping at his station on the corner to fill up and his nephew enjoyed a booming business with a refreshment stand.

McGill was asked to come from Sunday Church services at the ARP Church, which was then located where the Mountain View Restaurant is now, to gas up 40 – 50 motorcycles in the president’s motorcade. Those were the good ole’ days. 

The McGill family operated the business until N.F. McGill, Jr. retired in 1992, celebrating 66-years of service to the people of Kings Mountain and those who passed through town on their way to points west, or to view the fall leaves each year.

For 46-years, the building was owned by Standard Oil Company as noted on the Cleveland County Ledger Sheet, from April 15, 1926 until 1972. 

McGill and Son’s was a full-service station. Many Kings Mountain residents visited the station religiously. Jackie Jordan Davis commented on a recent Facebook post, “Trip, I love the picture of your grandaddy pumping gas in his suit and hat!! My grandaddy always dressed the exact same way. He never went anywhere without being ‘dressed’ and had his hat on.”

Gladys Jones shared, “We couldn't have survived our ten years in that town without McGill’s Service Station and even more importantly - without knowing and being friends with the McGill’s.”

Chris Ledbetter reminisced, “As a teenager with a bike I remember going there for free air for my tires that where always flat. I still love to see that landmark as I ride by in my truck with air filled tires...”

Byron Fite wrote, “I was born in 1954, and remember the station when service stations were Service Stations, with full service, and clean windshields, oil check, gas fill ups, and tire pressure checks in one stop... Just Saying, how old I am I reckon...”

Jeff Bogan shared the sentiments of many who commented, “I’d hate to see that building go away. It holds some good memories for me.”

Norman Fuller McGill, III (Trip) recently shared some photos on Facebook of the service station the year it opened., “100 E. King Street was the home of my grandaddy and dad’s business for years. The original building was built in 1924 and my Grandaddy, Fuller McGill, operated the business starting in 1926 and my dad closed the doors in 1992!” 

He added, “Pictured here is the original building before the bays and restrooms were added. My grandaddy standing in front as it was Standard Oil of NJ and then later McGill’s Esso and McGill’s Exxon. Also pictured is a story about my grandaddy and a picture of me with my dad sitting on the doorstep of the service station when I was about 3 years old, which would have been 1963.”

Three generations of McGill men, and countless others, worked at N.F. McGill and Son’s service station in its 66-year history. A new era of service stations began here in 1926 and the McGill family proudly continued that tradition until they closed the business. 

Fuller McGill and his son, Norman, were veterans of WWI and WWII respectively. They were civic minded family men who served the community on town boards and in a variety of roles at the ARP Church. 

The example they set while in business remains unequalled in Kings Mountain today. Humble men who did their job well, and served their community with their energy, time, and talents.

As Lib Stewart pointed out in her 1976 article, “McGill prides himself that his station has offered ‘first class service’ throughout the years and on the walls of the renovated modern establishment is a 40-year service award fromEsso and other citations.”

“McGill is apt to tell you very quickly that he doesn’t want to return to the ‘good ole’ days,” Stewart reported. “I just count my blessings every day,” he said.
Screen shot 2020 06 25 at 12.05.49 pm

DAR holds virtual Continental Congress online

By Loretta Cozart

This pandemic has impacted every part of our lives, from work, school, and play and the same applies to the Daughters of the American Revolution’s (DAR) annual meeting, referred to as Continental Congress. This year marks the 129th annual Continental Congress held in Washington, DC, just blocks away from the White House. But this year’s event will be virtual, and members are able to enjoy the events from their homes, or in small chapter gatherings across the country from June 24 – June 28.

Thousands of DAR members make the trip to Continental Congress around July 4 each year. Groups fill hotels inside the beltway and travel back and forth from the DAR buildings via shuttles and taxis during the day. From start to finish, Continental Congress is busy from morning to night with meetings, award ceremonies, and honoring our military and veterans.

Many go to Continental Congress to take advantage of the DAR’s Library, an extensive collection of genealogical records gathered from across the country. Others go to meet like-minded individuals who share similar interests and goals in the organization. 

DAR members join for a variety of reasons as diverse as the members themselves. Some join to foster good citizenship, educate youth, preserve history, learn about American history, research genealogy, coordinate local service projects, or to participate in commemorative events.  

A good example of a commemorative event witnessed locally occurred in 2016, when the Col. Frederick Hambright DAR Chapter dedicated a marker to African American Patriots at the Battle of Kings Mountain at the Kings Mountain National Military Park. All patriots who participated in the American Revolution deserve to be recognized for their service and three black patriots, among others unknown, are honored there.

In light of recent events, the DAR President General recently shared the society’s continued commitment to equality on its website saying, “DAR is an organization committed to historic preservation, education and patriotism, and knows that examining history helps us to better understand our nation’s long struggle to provide equality, justice and humanity for all Americans.”

She went on to share, “Our National Society encourages and celebrates a diverse membership, and we embrace the opportunity to support our members of color. DAR reaffirms to the membership and the public alike that our organization condemns racism. Bias, prejudice and intolerance have no place in the DAR or America.”

DAR members are women who come from diverse backgrounds and have a variety of interests. Their common bond is their lineal descent from patriots of the American Revolution – any woman, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove this lineage is eligible to join.
Ovid

Cleveland County Reports Third Death Related to COVID-19

The Cleveland County Health Department is sad to report the third death associated with COVID-19 in Cleveland County.
The individual, who passed on June 23, was in the age range of 25-49 and had multiple underlying health conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about this individual will be released.
“I am deeply saddened that we have lost another member of our community to COVID-19,” Cleveland County Health Director Tiffany Hansen said. “My thoughts and prayers are with this individual’s family. This reinforces that we must continue to take this virus very seriously.” 
As of today, there have been a total of 248 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cleveland County. Of these, 70 are currently active, 175 have completed their isolation period and recovered, and 9 are hospitalized. 
“The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our county continues to rise on a daily basis,” Cleveland County Deputy Health Director Deshay Oliver said. “The virus has become widespread throughout our county, and we are seeing ongoing community transmission. Since moving into Phase 1 and 2 of reopening, things seem to feel more normal, which can lead people to become more relaxed about taking precautions. However, it is more important now than ever to be responsible when leaving our homes by waiting six feet apart, washing our hands, and wearing a cloth face covering or mask. We must maintain the mindset that anyone could have the virus and take appropriate precautions.”
To view the Cleveland County COVID-19 case count update on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, visit www.clevelandcounty.com, click on “County Departments,” select “Health Department,” and then click on “Coronavirus Information.” You can also receive COVID-19 updates by following the Cleveland County Health Department’s Facebook page @clevelandcountyhealthdepartment.