Category Archives: Gaston County Image

Has Gastonia Turned the Corner?

 

SEABROOKS SAYS: Charles Gray is approaching the age of 80 and is consistently operation with tremendous energy.  One of the hard questions he asks is, “Have we (in Gaston County) turned the corner?” What is your answer? Are you ready to get involved in the same level as Charlie?  Why yes? Why no?  Now that you know, what will you do?   

 

In the past, I have expressed concern over Gastonia’s failure to grow in comparison to other cities in Metrolina.  I cited past reputation, missed opportunities, and unfavorable city regulations and inspections as reasons for our slow growth.  Recently, however, I have seen the following signs of hope (many of the facts have been furnished by Bill Seabrook):

 

  1. The Loray Mill and redevelopment of the Loray Mill.  The converted mill is now 96% occupied and we mill houses are scheduled for renovation and sale.

         

  2. The proposed sports center in West Gastonia.  The Sears building has already been purchased and the 15 million dollar project is scheduled for completion in 2019.

  3. The hotel in downtown Gastonia, with the first phase scheduled for opening in

    March of 2017.  

     

  4. The Harriss-Teeter shopping center and the new YMCA in South Gastonia. The 19

    million dollar YMCA project, headed by Tony Sigmon, has already been funded by local contributions and should be a showplace for the whole region.

     

  5. The formation of Gaston Outside (GO) under the leadership of Mark Cramer, who is working hard to improve Gaston’s image as a desirable place to live.

     

  6. A new attitude at city hall to make Gastonia more development friendly. The city

    council, under the direction of Mayor John Bridgeman, is providing strong leadership and the planning and inspections departments under the guidance of city manager Ed Munn and Flip Bombardier, are showing the much needed flexibility to encourage developers to come to Gastonia.

     

  7. The soon to be constructed artspace building will encourage the development of arts and culture in downtown Gastonia.

  8.  

  9. Through the hard work of our local school officials and Carrie Meier, Chris Dobbins

     and Steve Eason at our health department, teen pregnancy is down more that 52.7% with a tax savings of 40 million dollars. Our school drop-out rate is down and the graduation rate is up.

     

  10. The advanced manufacturing facility is well under way adjacent to the campus of

     Gaston College and should be completed ny the Spring of 2017.  

 

There are other needed projects, such as the southern bridge over the Catawba River and the expansion of the water and sewer down Union and New Hope Roads, but I believe Gastonia has turned the corner.

 

The other day I was playing golf with a young, successful real estate developer in Charlotte.  When he found out I was from Gastonia, he said, “I sure wish I lived in Gastonia. The traffic in Charlotte is unbearable.”  This tells me that our questionable reputation is fading and that Gastonia can be an ideal place for people to live and work in this rapidly growing area.  Let’s don’t foul it up.

 

 

 

Charles Gray

 

Retired attorney

 

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Gaston County: Love It or Leave It?

SEABROOKS SAYS: Jason Shoemaker is right – how you describe our county to others, either in the county or outside the county, will make a difference.  As he says, you don’t have to love Gaston County or leave it, but at least be proud of the positive things happening here. Now that you know, what will you do?   

“Love it or Leave it.” Some pro-war demonstrators used this phrase during the divisive Vietnam War. We have heard it many times in our lives, usually in reference to issues of national debate. Of course, this binary choice is not fair. One of the great things about our nation is the ability to express dissent, displeasure, and even dislike of the United States. That freedom of expression is a foundation of our democracy.

Although the “love it or leave it” statement itself may not be fair, the phrase reminds me of something meaningful that a friend once told me. He and I were discussing Gaston County, in particular how many residents reluctantly and sheepishly admit that they live or work here. When some citizens tell others that they are from Gastonia, or even Gaston County,  they lower their heads or go along with a degrading joke about the area. To this point, my friend questioned, “If you are not proud of something, why be a part of it?” Gaston County citizens should ask themselves this question.

We are all part of the Gaston County community. Although you may not agree with everything — and certainly there is room for improvement — we have seen many positive changes in the County during the past 13 years that I have lived here. Gastonia overcame the loss of thousands of textile jobs in the 1990s. Our local hospital has become a well known regional medical center. Centered around Crowders Mountain, the western part of the county has become an attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Belmont and Mount Holly have become destinations in the eastern part of the county. Cramerton and McAdenville firmly established themselves as vibrant, small town communities with their own unique identities. And the list goes on. Not everyone will be a cheerleader for their city or county, but at least acknowledge the positive efforts.

Regardless of whether you chose to relocate here, moved here for work (like I did), or have lived in Gaston County all your life, we almost certainly share a similar goal – to make this county a better place (after all, it would be hard to imagine anyone hoping for their hometown or home county to decline or fail). With that in mind, the next time someone asks where you live, do not be afraid to tell them. When someone makes a negative joke or comment about the area, tell them something positive. Speak about downtown Belmont, Goat Island Park, Crowders Mountain, Loray Mill, or the multi-use stadium district which will transform the western part of Gastonia. Even if you do not give the person specifics, remind him or her that we are trying to make Gaston County a better place.

This is our community. How you describe it to others, either in the county or outside the county, will make a difference. You don’t have to love Gaston County or leave it, but at least be proud of the positive things happening here.

Jason Shoemaker
Jason Shoemaker

Attorney
Mullen, Holland and Cooper, PA