News and Updates

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation offices now in McAdenville

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ready to break ground for Dynamo 31 are (from left) Luke Nelson representing contractor Myers-Chapman, Diana Myers of CL Helt Architects, Catawba Riverkeeper Brandon Jones, Riverkeeper Foundation board member Bob Webb, Executive Director John Searby, board member Shirley Greene, Pharr Companies CEO Bill Carstarphen and McAdenville Mayor Jim Robinette.        (Photo by Elaine Dimeo)

Ground broken for Dynamo 31 building renovation 

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Pharr Companies and Town of McAdenville representatives broke ground on June 15, 2021, for an office building renovation that will become home to the Riverkeeper organization, which has moved its headquarters from Charlotte to McAdenville.  

The Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce helped coordinate the ground-breaking ceremony on the lake across from Spruced Goose Station in downtown McAdenville at 102 Main Street.

During construction, the organization’s offices are housed in The Boathouse at the South Fork Trail and R.Y. McAden Canoe & Kayak Launch on Willow Drive in McAdenville.

Riverkeeper Foundation Executive Director John Searby spoke at the groundbreaking about the excitement generated by the organization realizing its founders’ vision to have a headquarters located along the river.

The foundation was formed in 1997 to help preserve and protect 8,900 miles of waterways in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin.

Pharr Companies CEO Bill Carstarphen spoke about the Riverkeeper partnership resulting in the Pharr building renovation. The building will be called Dynamo 31, recognizing the 1873 installation by inventor Thomas Edison of his hydroelectric generator known as dynamo number 31 in the McAden Mill, making it the first textile mill in the Southeast (possibly first in the world) to have electric lighting, Carstarphen said.

When completed, Dynamo 31 will house the Riverkeeper administrative offices, classroom space, a retail shop, a taproom and a large deck with views of the water.

Also taking part in the ceremony were McAdenville Mayor Jim Robinette and Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce President Marc Jordan.

For more information on the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, visit, or call 704.679.9494. 

Rendering shows how the Pharr Companies building will look after renovation. Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation will be the first tenant. It's across the street from Spruced Goose Station.

William Henry The Spa open in Belmont

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Owner Somer Wilson is ready to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of William Henry The Spa at 405 North Central Avenue in Belmont surrounded by members of the spa staff. Holding the ribbon are Montcross Area Chamber Champion volunteer Cheryl Loggins (left) and former Chamber Board Chair Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design.

5th major building renovation by Somer and Preston Wilson 

William Henry Signature Salon & Spa owners Somer and Preston Wilson have renovated and returned to service five major downtown buildings in Belmont, Mount Holly and McAdenville. 

They celebrated opening of their third Belmont project, William Henry The Spa, on June 10, 2021, with a Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony and a Network After Work reception.  

The Spa is located at 405 North Central Avenue in a large two-story brick building that was vacant for years before the Wilsons made it part of the William Henry family of businesses. 

Their other businesses include William Henry Signature Salon & Spas on South Main Street in Belmont, Main Street in McAdenville and North Main Street in Mount Holly and Ballard’s Barber Shop on North Main Street in Belmont. 

All five businesses are named in honor of Preston Wilson’s grandfather William Henry Ballard, a long-time local barber.

William Henry The Spa occupies the main floor of the almost 9,000-square-foot building that has been completely remodeled inside and out. A new entrance and dark gray exterior paint make the previously ordinary looking building stand out. 

Inside, spa services occupy the entire first floor, and the second floor is available for lease. 

A large staff offers facials and a variety of massage treatments including Swedish, deep tissue, heated stone and pre-natal. Hours are noon – 8 on Monday, 8 – 8 Tuesday-Friday, and 8 - 3 on Saturday. 

For information on all William Henry salons go to, or call 704.741.3200 for William Henry The Spa. 

Watch the ribbon-cutting video on Facebook  

Total exterior and interior renovation has transformed the appearance of the brick building that stood vacant for many years on Belmont's North Central Avenue. 





CaroMont breaks ground on Belmont hospital

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

CaroMont Health President & CEO Chris Peek (center) prepares to break ground for the new hospital in Belmont with members of the CaroMont Health Board and Belmont Abbey College President Bill Theirfelder and Belmont Abbey Chancellor Abbot Placid Solari. In the photos below are several renderings showing exterior and interior views of the new facility. (Banner News photo by Alan Hodge.)

“We are building more than a hospital, more than a medical campus, we are building the future.”

- CaroMont President & CEO Chris Peek 

CaroMont Health marked the beginning of construction of a new hospital and medical campus in Belmont on June 8, 2021. Part of CaroMont Health’s commitment to invest more than $300 million in new and expanded facilities in and around Gaston County over the next three years, CaroMont Regional Medical Center-Belmont is scheduled to open in mid-2023.

“We are building more than a hospital, more than a medical campus, we are building the future,” said Chris Peek, President and CEO of CaroMont Health. “In three short years, this will be the site of so much hope and promise – where new life is welcomed, where patients heal and where the next generation of healthcare professionals find their purpose.”

Located off Interstate 85 in Gaston County, the 28-acre medical campus will include a 66-bed hospital (54-acute care beds and 12 observation beds), 16-room emergency department, labor and delivery unit, operating rooms and surgical capabilities, and robust diagnostic testing and imaging services. Also planned is a medical office building and parking deck. Early estimates suggest the hospital alone could create as many as 150 new jobs in the region and see as many as 16,000 patients in the first year.

"With the insight and guidance of medical and clinical leadership, CaroMont Regional Medical Center-Belmont has been designed with an intense focus on the patient, both their care and their experience,” said Richard Blackburn, Vice President of Facilities and Support Services. “This medical campus, and the hospital that will anchor it, will extend our clinical network to better serve communities in the eastern part of Gaston County and continue to provide exceptional medical care to the region.”

In September 2020, CaroMont Health and Belmont Abbey College entered into a long-term partnership to allow CaroMont Health to build the new hospital and medical campus on land owned by the college and monastic community since the late 1800s. The proximity of CaroMont Regional Medical Center-Belmont to the college campus will offer educational opportunities for students in Belmont Abbey College’s health science programs.

CLICK HERE to read the full CaroMont Health press release.

Ariel view of the planned Belmont hospital, medical building and parking deck at I-85 exit 27, with the interstate shown in the background.

Riverkeeper Boathouse open at South Fork Trail and canoe launch

Saturday, June 5, 2021


Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation Executive Director John Searby cheers after cutting the ribbon with CRF Board Chair Tyler Richardson to his left and Gaston Travel & Tourism Executive Director Michael Applegate. Holding the ribbon are Chamber board member Paige Kilburn of Truist Bank and Chamber President Marc Jordan.

 Boathouse has taproom, restrooms, apparel and gear shop 

What do outdoor enthusiasts most desire after an exhilarating summer hike on the South Fork Trail or a long canoe or kayak paddle on the South Fork River? 

Maybe a cool place to relax, a cold craft beer and a clean restroom. 

The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is providing all of that and more in the new Boathouse which opened on June 5, 2021, with a large celebration and a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The Boathouse is at the South Fork River Trail and R.Y McAden Canoe and Kayak Launch at 115 Willow Drive in McAdenville. In addition to restrooms, a taproom offering beers from breweries along the Catawba River and an outdoor apparel and gear retail shop, the large building houses temporary offices for the Foundation, which has relocated from Charlotte. 

The offices are temporary because the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is breaking ground on June 15, 2021, for permanent offices in downtown McAdenville. In partnership with Pharr Family of Companies, a Pharr building is being renovated to provide the Foundation administrative offices, a large seminar space and more. 

The location is at 100 Main Street, on the lake across from Spruced Goose Station. 

At the Boathouse grand opening, Riverkeeper Foundation Executive Director John Searby made comments along with CRF Board Chair Tyler Richardson, Montcross Area Chamber President Marc Jordan and Michael Applegate, executive director of the Gaston County Department of Travel & Tourism. Searby also accepted a $1,500 contribution from the Mount Holly and Huntersville Sunrise Rotary Clubs presented by Dana Hicks.

Boathouse hours are Thursday and Friday, 4 – 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

The Catawba Riverkeeper is the only non-profit, on-the-water advocate for the entire 8,900 miles of waterways in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin, providing accurate, science-based information about the water and the issues affecting it.  

For more information on the Foundation, the Boathouse and plans for the new office building, visit or call 704.679.9494. 

Grand opening guests at the Boathouse enjoyed draft beers from Catawba River breweries. 



Today's Daily Bread fills stomachs and hearts of students;

Tuesday, May 25, 2021


Today's Daily Bread founder Candace Nichols cuts the ribbon surrounded by volunteers, sponsors, board members and Chamber representatives. Holding the ribbon are Clif Calvert of McKenney Chevrolet and Elaine Dimeo of Watson Insurance. 

Prayers, volunteers and donations requested 

Today’s Daily Bread is a Christian-based nonprofit born last year from founder Candace Nichols’ calling to “fill the stomachs and hearts” of students 18 and younger who otherwise might go hungry during the summer. 

More than 60 percent of Gaston County students qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, but many lack access to meals during summer breaks. 

Candace, formerly a human resources executive, felt led to help meet this need and created Today’s Daily Bread, a mobile meal delivery service, which celebrated the start of its second summer with a Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 25, 2021, in the parking lot of Exodus Church in Belmont. 

Meals are provided by Gaston County Schools and delivered in a specially designed truck emblazoned with the TDB logo and that of several corporate sponsors, including McKenney Chevrolet Dealership, Biz on Wheels, Choice U.S.A. Beverage Inc. (Sundrop), Sunbelt Rentals, Don Mintz Builders, LLC., Advanced Copier Tech, Belmont Savings Bank, and Christmas Town Dentistry. 

The ministry is funded entirely through donations and sponsorships. A variety of corporate sponsorship levels are available. 

In its first year, TDB averaged delivering meals to 165 children each weekday. 

Rolling out for its second summer, Candace says there’s always a need at Today’s Daily Bread for these three essentials: prayers, volunteers and donations.

For more information and to donate money, time or services, go to

Candace Nichols (center) with Today's Daily Bread Board members police officer and Realtor Ivory Craig and Carolinas Weight Loss Institute founder Dr. Lidia Adkins.



Smoke & Barrel Cigar Lounge in Mount Holly

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Smoke & Barrel co-owner and Mount Holly Mayor Bryan Hough prepares to cut the ribbon with his wife Gina to his left. With them are team members at the new cigar lounge, from left, Olivia Cutler, Sierra Thomas, Emma Miller, Chris Kinley, Luther Ross, Kayla Gravitte and Nautilus Butler. In the photo below, the crowd erupts in cheers as the ribbon is cut.

Owners "wanted a place unlike anything in the region" 

Smoke & Barrel Cigar Lounge co-owners Bryan Hough and Wayne Kinley had a long wait for their grand opening celebration because of COVID restrictions when they opened last summer. But they made up for lost time on May 18, 2021, when many customers, friends and family turned out for a reception and ribbon cutting along with members of the Montcross Area Chamber, the Gaston Business Association and GBA Mount Holly.

The lounge is in a beautifully restored historic building at 121 East Charlotte Avenue in downtown Mount Holly.

Bryan Hough, who also is mayor of Mount Holly, told guests about the lounge, which specializes in a wide variety of premium cigars and great bourbon whiskey. Exposed brick, an open ceiling, large screens, a walk-in humidor, a fully stocked bar and plush leather chairs create the relaxing atmosphere Hough and Kinley intended in their lounge.

“We wanted to have a place that provided a unique vibe, unlike anything in the region,” said Hough. “We want everyone to feel welcome and to feel at home here.” 

A ventilation and filtration system inside and outdoor seating make the lounge a favorite spot for non-smokers, too. And food trucks regularly are on site.

The lounge operates on an annual membership basis and offers day-passes for visitors and occasional guests.

For more information, visit, or call 704.812.8621.

Customers, city officials, Chamber members and friends came out to welcome Smoke & Barrel to Mount Holly after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an almost one-year delay in hosting the ribbon-cutting celebration.

Reserve your ad now in next Chamber Welcome Guide

Monday, May 17, 2021

Cover shown above is the 2020-21 magazine published last spring and still in circulation today. The 2021-22 edition will be published this summer.

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