News and Updates

Shining Hope Farms & Hogzilla BBQ host Chamber

Friday, June 10, 2016

On the right in the photo, are Paul and Melinda Kirkpatrick and Kari Pilbeam, representing Shining Hope Farms. Melinda is a founder and executive director of SHF, Paul is a main supporter and Kari chairs the board of directors. In yellow, are Jo and Mark Magda, owners of Hogzilla BBQ, which co-sponsored and donated food for the event. At left, is Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency, immediate past chair of the Chamber board of directors. In front, are SHF staffers Emily Jones (left) with Maddie and McKenzie Huffman with Scarlet.

The irresistible combination of Shining Hope Farms country charm, Hogzilla BBQ, Catawba River Bluegrass Association music, a splendid spring afternoon and opportunities to make business contacts brought an astounding 168 Chamber members and friends to Networking After Work Thursday.

The beautiful horses might have had a little to do with it, too. Horses that had worked all day providing therapeutic rides for children with special needs were relaxing in the pasture, but miniature Shetlands Maddie and Scarlet were readily available for petting.

Thank you to Shining Hope Farms and Hogzilla BBQ for teaming up to host this outstanding Chamber event. Learn more about them at these sites:


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Nellie's Southern Kitchen open after VIP Preview

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Three years after the famous Jonas Brothers first took Belmont by storm when they dropped in to check out the building their parents had purchased on North Main Street, the dream of Nellie’s Southern Kitchen came true this week. 

Music celebrities Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas, and their younger brother Frankie, returned to help their parents, Kevin Jonas, Sr. and Denise Jonas, host a sneak VIP preview of the restaurant they describe as both a tribute to the matriarch of their family, Nellie Jonas, and a gift to the community that is home to the Jonas family. 

Nellie’s opened for business on Monday, June 13, at 11 a.m. 

More than 165 members of the Jonas family and their friends and invited guests filled the main dining room of Nellie’s on Tuesday, June 7, for an evening of celebration, food and entertainment. Joe Jonas and his band DNCE were first to perform, before dashing off to play a concert in Charlotte. 

Long-time Jonas family friend Tony Orlando performed some of his greatest hits, and with his wife and daughters spent the evening visiting with almost every guest. 

Music will be a large part of the tradition at Nellie’s, which has a stage in the dining room, where the house band played and talented members of the staff took turns performing. A large roof-top lounge over the adjoining Nellie’s Pick Me Up building wasn’t open for the preview, but is expected to open soon. 

A floor-to-ceiling portrait of Kevin Jonas Sr.’s grandmother Nellie at the back of the dining room is the first thing visitors see as they enter the restaurant. Unique light fixtures include more than a dozen round chandeliers featuring songbirds, each custom designed and crafted. Lighting over the bar symbolizes cotton bolls. 

“Creating more than 100 permanent full-time and part-time jobs and even more temporary jobs for construction workers of every description is a major economic contribution to our community and to all of Gaston County,” said Montcross Area Chamber President Ted Hall in a statement to the media.

“It’s remarkable and commendable that a family with deep roots in the Belmont and Mount Holly area has come home and worked extremely hard, investing vast sums of money, to create a business that’s a tribute to the matriarch of their family and a gift to the community.”


Owner Kevin Jonas, Sr. in front of Nellie's just after the sign was installed on June 7, 2016.

Brothers Kevin (left) and Nick Jonas relaxing on the roof-top after posing for hundreds of photos with Nellie’s guests.

Kevin Sr., introducing his son Joe Jonas, who was the first to perform on the stage at Nellie’s.

Singer Tony Orlando was greeted by Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin as he arrived outside Nellie's with his family. 

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These ladies are MAJOR Jonas fans

The Jonas family donated four passes to the VIP preview of Nellie’s for the Montcross Area Chamber to sell at a silent auction during its Annual Banquet in February, and Mount Holly City Council member Carolyn Holbrook Breyare outbid many others to claim the coveted tickets. She used them to bring to the preview her daughter Carrie Breyare Bailey, who is a member of the McAdenville Town Council, and her granddaughters Cassidy and Chelsea. The four had a blast and got photos with all of the Jonas brothers. 


 At right, are Carolyn, Cassidy, Carrie and Chelsea, and above with Nick and Kevin Jonas.




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The new Gaston Outside GO logo and images shown here are from the the new Facebook page. In the photo below, Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin adds his signature to a framed image of the new logo that soon will be covered with the names of those who sign on to help deliver Gaston County's  message.


"Gaston Outside is a celebration of the people, places, businesses and natural beauty that make Gaston County such an amazing place. From the mountains in the west to the rivers in the east, our county is woven together with a heritage of hard work and a love for the outdoors.

Nestled just outside of Charlotte, Gaston County is diverse, made up of charming small towns, plentiful natural resources and industrious people. We are proud ‘think-out-of-the-box-ers,’ makers and doers. We are Gaston Outside."

That's how a Gaston County marketing campaign launched June 1, 2016, is introduced on a new website and on new social media sites. (See links below.)

The campaign was unveiled at a kickoff rally at the Gastonia Conference Center. Greater Gaston Development Corporation raised funds from the county, municipalities, private businesses and other sources to finance the campaign to promote Gaston County's abundant outdoor attractions and many other advantages. 

You'll soon start seeing a lot of the new Gaston Outside GO logo on billboards, stickers, t-shirts, beverage holders and many other places, as Gaston County delivers a loud and clear message that there's an amazing array of people, small towns and natural resources to discover "nestled just outside of Charlotte." 

Learn more about the campaign on these sites: (Be sure to watch the LET'S GO video) 

A rally at Gastonia Conference Center kicked off Gaston Outside GO campaign.







YMCA breaks ground for $17 million Robinwood Lake Y

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Some of the children who will play at the new Gaston Family YMCA planned at Robinwood Lake in Gastonia took center stage for the groundbreaking Wednesday, May 25, 2016,  by the 34-acre lake that makes this a unique and spectacular YMCA site. That's Gaston YMCA CEO Tony Sigmon relishing the significance of children helping start the work to build the community's new Y.

34-acre lake site makes new YMCA unique and spectacular

Project leaders say Gaston County will have the most spectacular YMCA on the East coast, and maybe in the entire country, when the $17 million facility on the shore of Robinwood Lake in Gastonia is completed. Fundraising is well under way, but many more gifts, large and small, will be needed to finish the project. Contact the Y at, or 704.865.8551, to find out how you can help make this dream come true for these children and tens of thousands of others.

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Artist's drawing of the entrance to the YMCA to be built at Robinwood Lake.

Addition to Cramer Woods community to total 112 homes

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kevin Casner and Lesley Summerour (right) of LiveWell Homes tell Chamber members about The Enclave at Cramer Woods during "Network After Work" Tuesday. Among the large group of Chamber members gathered in the model home at the Peninsula at Bayshore community, are (from left) Chamber Board member Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank in Mount Holly, Elaine Dimeo of George Stowe Insurance, Pat Rivers and Chamber Board member Brad Rivers of Gaston College. 

LiveWell Homes to build The Enclave At Cramer Woods

A new addition to the popular Cramer Woods community off South New Hope Road in Gastonia eventually will have 112 all-brick homes, Montcross Area Chamber members and friends learned during "Network After Work" hosted by LiveWell Homes on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. 

Called the Enclave at Cramer Woods, the new neighborhood along Stowe Road will have its first homes ready for occupancy this fall. Site preparation has begun, and lot sales soon will begin.

Until a model is built in the new community, LiveWell Homes sales representatives will continue to work from the decorated model in the Peninsula at Bayshore community at 105 Bayshore Drive. That's where the Chamber networking reception was held, with a large turnout of Chamber members and friends eager to learn about Bayshore and The Enclave At Cramer Woods.

Kevin Casner and Lesley Summerour are the LiveWell representatives for Bayshore and the Enclave. Six homes and lots are all that remain to be sold in Bayshore, which features all-brick homes on lots of one acre or more. Chamber guests were impressed with the size of the lots and with the space and decor of the model home, which now is available for purchase.

Click here to learn more about The Enclave At Cramer Woods, or call Kevin Casner or Lesley Summerour at 803.820.0400. 

"Network After Work" receptions are hosted by Chamber member businesses at least once each month to give members opportunities to make business contacts and learn about the host business.

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Christi Falls Photography Open In Belmont

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Christi Falls cuts the ribbon, with her husband Jay standing behind her and Chamber members and friends in the background. On the front row, are (from left) Chamber Secretary Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design, Chamber Board member Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank - Mount Holly, Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin, Gaston County Commission Chairman Tom Keigher, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger, Andy Haynes and Natalie Tindol of Tindol Ford Subaru, and Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services.

Grand opening celebrated with Chamber ribbon-cutting

Chamber members, clients and friends turned out in large numbers at noon today to help Christi Falls celebrate the opening of her new wedding and portrait photography studio in downtown Belmont. In beautiful spring weather, the crowd spilled out of the studio at 27 Catawba Street and onto the sidewalk to enjoy refreshments, networking and learning about Christi Falls Photography. Formerly a photojournalist working for several area newspapers, Christi now works in studio photography focusing mainly on weddings and portraits. See examples of her work at For more information on Christi Falls Photography, call 980.522.2933.

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It was business and breakfast at BNI Chamber event this morning

Thursday, May 19, 2016

BNI members with Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey (center) and Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne (third from right) at Morning Spark networking breakfast today. Representing BNI (from left) are Chapter President Mike Claypool, Terry Knight, Jim Smith, (Mayor Railey), Diana Blair of CommunityOne Bank in Stanley, Crystal Armstrong, (Walter Payne), Bill Joles of International Minute Press and Phillip Poston. 

Business and breakfast mixed well today as the Twin Rivers Network Connectors of BNI (Business Networking International) hosted Chamber members for Morning Spark networking in Lowell. The dining room at Grits n Greens restaurant was filled with more than 40 Chamber members and BNI members all eager to make connections and do business with each other. BNI is a national referral network made up of local chapters. Members help each other by sharing business referrals with colleagues within the group. BNI president Mike Claypool presided and spoke about how BNI referral groups work and how effective they are in generating business for members. Montcross Area Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services spoke on behalf of the Chamber along with President  Ted Hall. For more information on Twin Rivers Connectors of BNI, call Mike Claypool at 704.689.1151. 

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