Donna Whitt, above left, and Kate Esch, center told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the Listening Post program at Lenoir - Rhyne University. Studies have shown that significant numbers of college age adults still feel lonely in today’s connected society. Forty percent of college dropouts have said they were socially alone on campus. The listening Post is a safe space where students and volunteer “listeners” share unhurried conversations, meeting as equals. It is a place to be heard and accepted, to consider options, express joy, be affirmed, explore ideas and more. Started by the late Dr. Mable Barth in Colorado years ago, the movement to afford meaningful conversation has spread to about 100 college campuses, including App State and L-R. Rotarian Kent Spears, above right, arranged the program.

Courtney Wright, President of Caldwell County Rotary Club, updated members on the club’s effort to fund and participate in district 7670 grant programs. Caldwell Rotary has helped fund a grant that helps with the disposal of medical waste at a Kenya medical clinic. Also, working with Lenoir Rotary, the clubs co-sponsored a project that gave all Caldwell County third grade students their own dictionary. The two clubs have worked jointly for a decade on this project.

Sam Smith, above right, Director of the Fire Academy at Hibriten High School, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that the program will expand to include South Caldwell High School next year. The semester long study has a capacity of twenty high school students who learn the fundamentals in safety, prevention and fighting fire. Hibriten was the 12th such program in the state. Today some 80 high schools offer the training. Smith noted there is a shortage of volunteer and career firefighters. The class has led to the employment of all students who chose to pursue a career in firefighting. Approved by the state fire marshal and the NC Department of Insurance, students must pass a series of 21 tests to reach certification. Smith, a retired Lenoir fireman, said the program is strongly supported by the Lenoir Fire Department. Rotarian Charles Beck, above left, arranged the program.

Deborah Ashley Smith, above left, Business Development Executive with CaldwellUNC Healthcare, updated members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about the on-going improvements to local health facilities. Rivercrest Medical in Granite Falls is now open, Laurel Park has been expanded, Anderson Medical Park in Hudson has added new staff, South Fork Medical Park has been completed, and an addition to Westpointe in Gamewell has been completed. CaldwellUNC now manages 6 urgent care facilities in the county. Recent upgrades to the hospital campus includes a new welcome desk area, new Imaging area, and the new McCreary Surgery Center. Demolition of  the Jonas House is underway to make space for the new Behavior Health Facility. Rotarian Ron Beane, aboveright, arranged the program.

Cathy McCoy, above left, with the Caldwell Arts Council, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the wide variety of programs available to local residents and visitors to our area. Founded in 1976, Caldwell Arts Council is a local non-profit that encourages awareness and an appreciation of the arts. Foremost is a partnership with the local schools to offer an Artist in Residence that exposes children to theater,dance, music, and many more enriching experiences. McCoy noted the various summer school experiences that are offered by the Arts Council. More information may be obtained by calling 828-754-2486 or emailing Rotarian Bud Watts, above right, arranged the program.

Emmanuel Manzano, above right, an exchange student from the Dominican Republic, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about differences in his country and the United States. He indicated that the Dominican Republic has more gold than any other country in the world. Manzano is staying with the Curtis Baker family while attending West Caldwell High School. He plans to pursue an education that could lead to an acting career. Manzano is also an accomplished magician. He demonstrated his talents to the club members. Rotarian Bill Sproul, above left, arranged the program.

Kaylynn Horn, above center, Lenoir Economic Development Director, and Kyle Case, above right, Main Street Program Coordinator, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about on-going efforts to make Lenoir’s Downtown a unique historic district. A move to develop second floor residential space is underway. Studies show that each downtown resident generates about $10,000 annually in income for downtown businesses. Some eight projects have begun or in the development stages. The City of Lenoir recently won 4 statewide awards, more than any other city, at the 2019 North Carolina Main Street Conference. Rotarian Kent Spears, above left, arranged the program.

Ethan Matherly, above right, Caldwell County Forest Ranger, and Christina Newsome, center, with the non-profit Carolina Land and Lakes, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about the regional program called Firewise USA. The program promotes individual and community fire safety efforts. It helps residents identify, and reduce, wildfire risk in locations near US Forestry boundaries. Some 1500 sites have been designated as certified in the 4 state region. In Caldwell County, the Coves at Round Mountain is certified. Learn more about a free wildfire risk assessment by contacting local Forestry officials or contacting Carolina Land and Lakes at 828-244-8722. Rotarian Seth Nagy, above left, arranged the program.

Radford Thomas, above right, Director of Public Utilities for the City of Lenoir, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club the current water treatment plant on Lake Rhodhiss treets over 22 Billion gallons of water annually. Recent capital improvements have extended the service life of the location which was built in 1956. Plant filters have been rebuilt and mechanical pretreatments have been improved. The City also has 3 Million gallons of elevated storage capacity on Cajah’s Mountain which aids in sustaining water pressure. The Lower Creek wastewater treatment facility has a capacity of 6 million gallons per day. Improvements there are scheduled to be done in 2020. This fall, Lenoir will begin to recycle water meters to match technology improvements that allow remote reading and disconnects. Rotarian Charles Beck, above left, arranged the program.

District Attorney Scott Reilly, above left, serves in Caldwell, Burke and Catawba Counties. He told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that he will seek another Assistant DA for Caldwell from the current legislative session. Reilly explained there is a backlog of approximately 200 case files that need to be brought before a grand jury seeking indictment. Some of these are nearly a year old. He has met with all local law enforcement agencies since taking office. Their concerns over the rise of drug overdose deaths has resulted in three individuals being tried later this year for second degree murder because of the role they played in the distribution of fentanyl. Reilly is putting emphasis on trying 14 pending murder cases - some as old as 6 years - and another 60 serious felony cases to address a backlog of delayed justice. Rotarian Kevin Miller, above right, arranged the program.

Taylor Brummett, above left, and his wife, Katie, above center, are the owners of Liquid Roots Brewing Project. They told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the process that brought them to Lenoir to begin their business. The Indiana natives came to Lenoir last fall after finding the building online. Located at 1048 Harper Avenue, the business is fully permitted and open. Welcoming to all, the Brummett’s want to have a family atmosphere and it is dog friendly. Live music is a regular part of the plans with open mike on Wednesday’s and live music on Fridays. Rotarian Kent Greer, above right, arranged the program.

Rotarian Chris Cole, above right, with Capital Bank, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about changes seen in the banking industry and future trends that are expected. Many banks are adding employees with IT skills as the industry trends toward automated and online services. Cole said that technology advancements continue to change the way people do banking. The downtown Lenoir office of Capital Bank will be seeing some renovations and modifications in the coming months. A subdivision of First Horizon, Capital Bank is part of the 4th largest community bank in the southeast. Rotarian David Gray, above left, arranged the program.

Patrick Crouch, above right, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about the considerable offerings of live music venues in the 4 county region. He cited 22 locations in the Unifour area that offered live music at least on a weekly basis. Included in the listing are 3 locations in Lenoir, including 1841, Liquid Roots, and the Caldwell Arts Council. He noted that Caldwell County is full of accomplished and capable songwriters. Many of them have been featured in the annual Caldwell Showcase of Stars. The annual event will be Saturday March 9th at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Rotarian Kay Crouch, above left, arranged the program.
Dr. Dana Clark, above right, Program Director for Hospitality and Tourism Management at Appalachian State University, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club that North Carolina’s biggest opportunity to expand tourism in the next decade is to focus on China. Tourism brings $24 Billion dollars in direct spending to the Tar Heel state each year. This sustains 225,000 jobs in North Carolina. Locally, tourism spending totals $53 Million dollars annually. It is a fast changing industry with a wide range of job opportunities for his students. The Appalachian program is nationally recognized as producing top quality graduates for the hospitality industry. Rotarian Jeff Joines, above left, arranged the program.

Caldwell County Register of Deeds Wayne Rash, above left, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that 2018 was the busiest year for real estate transactions in a decade. Excise tax revenue was up 20% over the previous year. Electronic transactions have risen to 42% of all activity. Computerization of records prior to 1971 still continues. Rash hopes the project will be completed later this year. He reminded Rotarians that a free Veteran Discount card is available thru his office. Rotarian Bruce Cannon, above right, arranged the program.

Larry Smith, above left, owner of Mountain Top Fraser Fir, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary about his recent trip to the Washington to deliver the White House Christmas tree. Smith first won a competition at the State level in 2015 that qualified him to compete for the national honor. Some 26 family members and friends took part in the tree delivery on November 19th. A smaller group returned one week later for the national tree lighting ceremony. About 300 invited guests enjoyed a banquet at the White House that evening. Smith, with help from Frosty, sells his trees in Lenoir, Hickory, and Charlotte. Rotarian Dr. Jeff Church, above right, arranged the program. Caldwell County Rotary meets each Tuesday at 6:44 a.m.

Plans to begin junior college baseball and softball teams at Caldwell Community College were discussed at Caldwell County Rotary Club. Above left to right, College Athletic Director Matt Anderson, President Dr. Mark Poarch, and Baseball coach Frank Pait said the program will compete at the NJCAA level with a fall and spring season. The spring schedule would be about 50 games. Walker Stadium in downtown Lenoir will be the home baseball field. Final details remain to be worked out, but scholarships could be available to some of the athletes. The coach for the fast pitch women’s softball team has not been named as yet. Rotarian Ron Beane, above right, arranged the program.

Hard work by members of Caldwell County Rotary during 2018 has benefited several local community organizations with financial assistance for their holiday cheer efforts. Money obtained from a variety of fund raising events were distributed by club treasurer Chris Cole, left. He made presentations to five community groups. From first picture above, left to right: Sharon Osborne, Caldwell Yokefellow; Lisa Clontz, Caldwell Shelter Home; Will Wakefield, DSS Foster Children; Angel Moretz, Soup Kitchen; and Michael Riggs, faculty advisor for the West Caldwell Interact Club. Following the check presentations, all were serenaded by local musicians ( second photo) Kaye and Patrick Crouch with a variety of Christmas themed songs. Kay is a member of the club.

Rotarian Ralph Prestwood, above left, with ServPro, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about recent efforts by the local franchise to help business and residential customers recover from the ice storm and other damages. The program featured a variety of before and after video clips that highlighted the damages and repairs. The local ServPro franchise serves Alexander, Burke, Catawba and Caldwell counties and employees 52 people full time. Club President Courtney Wright, above right, introduced the program.

Dr. Helen Hall, above right, a member of Lenoir Rotary Club, updated members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about the upcoming Rotary Youth Leadership Academy in Black Mountain next March. Rotarians from around the world sponsor high school students to attend these leadership experiences. Topics include fundamentals of leadership, ethics, communication skills and problem solving exercises. Held at the Black Mt. YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, high school students nominated because of their leadership potential will attend the academy. Club President Courtney Wright, above left, introduced the program.

Lenoir Police Chief Brent Phelps, above right, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club that his officers have administered Narcan 16 times in the last 21 months to counter drug overdoses. Often they arrive on the science before first responders or EMT’s. It was just one of the highlights from a wide ranging discussion. While violent crimes in Lenoir are on the decline, Phelps expressed concern that property crimes and vehicle thefts are on the rise. He noted that the City Council has made efforts to raise the starting pay for officers, now at about $33,000 annually, but recruiting and retaining trained staff still presents challenges. The City has 55 full time sworn officers and a total of 70 staff. Rotarian Charles Beck, above left, arranged the program.

Kimberly Edmisten, above right, General Manager for Foothills Radio Group, told members of Caldwell County Rotary about the on-going innovations in the local radio stations. Three stations, each with a distinctive format serve the community. WJRI is the oldest, dating back to 1948. It features “Just Right” music from the 1950s to the 1980s broadcasting on 1340 AM and 100.5 FM. WKGX features classic hits broadcasting on 1080 AM and 104.5 FM. WKVS, also known as Kicks 103.3, features modern country music. Technology advances will see the local stations offer streaming services in the near future. The website for the radio group recently underwent a major upgrade. Rotarian Chris Cole, above left, arranged the program. 


Rotarian David Gray, above right, updated members of Caldwell County Rotary about the Rotary International effort to eradicate polio from the world. For over 30 years Rotarians have raised and donated funds and utilized manpower to fight the polio virus. In recent years the world wide effort has seen only a few third world countries left where the virus still exists. Much of the effort is now focused on Afghanistan. The war torn country continues to be a difficult location to vaccinate the youth. Billionaire Bill Gates has joined Rotary International in a 2-1 match of funds raised by Rotarians. World Polio Day is October 24th. Learn more at Club President Courtney Wright, above left, introduced the program.

 Lisa Miller, above left, president of the Caldwell County Humane Society, told members of Caldwell County Rotary about the range of services available in our county. The all volunteer organization was formed in 2003. Primary focus remains education of the public about spay and neuter services for animals. Their first low cost spay and neuter clinic was in 2005. Working in cooperation with the Asheville Humane Alliance, sessions are held locally twice monthly at the Caldwell County Library. Some 7700 animals have been spay and neuter since 2005. Club President Courtney Wright, above right, arranged the program.
Dick Mitchell, above right, retired publisher of the News-Topic, shared info about his recently published book “Up Your Management” with members of Caldwell County Rotary. Mitchell’s 54 year career in the newspaper industry provides the background for the book. In it, he describes 3 major styles of management, sales, psychology, hiring the right people, the power of questions and delegation. Available thru Xulon Press, the book is also available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.Rotarian Jeff Joines, above left, arranged the program.

Rotarian Kent Spears, above left, updated members of CaldwellCounty Rotary about the upcoming Lenoir Downtown Christmas Festival scheduled for November 17th. Vendor applications are still being accepted for the event. The club is working with the Chamber of Commerce and Lenoir Downtown business to promote the festival. Live entertainment will preform on the square, there will be face painting, balloon artists, a kids zone, and a special visit by Santa. A variety of food vendors will be on hand, along with craft vendors. Learn more at the Club’s website: Club President Courtney Wright, above right, introduced the program.

Craig Styron, above left, Principal at West Caldwell High School, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club that he was excited to be back at the school. Styron began his career in education at West in 1993 as a physical education teacher. He recently completed 5 years as Principal at Collettsville Elementary School. Styron said points of emphasis at West Caldwell will be student attendance and graduation rates. He and the faculty are focusing on individual student needs to succeed. Enrollment at West Caldwell has dropped to 750 students this year. The school has seen 5 principals over the last 10 years. Styron said he plans to finish his career at West. Rotary President Courtney Wright, above right, introduced the program.


Emily Jaynes, above left, education specialist with the Western Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about the services offered by the regional office. A 24 hour Helpline, 800-272-3900, provides information and emotional support for individual family and professional caregivers. A wide range of free educational programs are offered to learn more about dementia-related disorders, coping strategies for persons with dementia and care givers. She also acknowledged Rotarians for their funding efforts thru the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust fund. Contributing Rotarians help fund research into Alzheimer’s. She encouraged everyone to become aware of the 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s. Rotarian Ralph Prestwood, above right, arranged the program.


Sharon Harmon, above left, executive director of Yokefellow, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club that in 2019 Yokefellow will mark their 50th anniversary. Yokefellow is a faith-based community help organization which receives no state or federal funding. Ten years ago the budget for Yokefellow was $204,000. Today it is $1.4 million. Annually, Yokefellow feeds about 30,000 families. September is Hunger Awareness Month and Yokefellow will be celebrating. Yokefellow is a member of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Carolina and, as such, receives a fair amount of their food from that organization. Yokefellow also assists with electric and other utility bills. Yokefellow subscribes to a balanced Pathway for well-being for those that they assist. This includes financial management, physical health, mental health, occupational health, and spiritual well-being. In 2015, Yokefellow in cooperation with the city of Lenoir opened Leo’s, a 24/7 shelter for the homeless. Last year Leo’s had 9000 nights of shelter for Caldwell County residents. Rotarian Bud Watts,above left, arranged the program.


Kent Spears, chairman for the 6th annual Caldwell County Rotary Lenoir Downtown Christmas festival, told club members that plans for the event are well underway. Set for Saturday November 17th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Lenoir, the street festival is expected to attract some 60+ vendors and several thousand visitors. Caldwell Rotary partners with the City of Lenoir and the Lenoir Downtown Economic Development program. Proceeds from the fund raiser helps support college scholarships for three Caldwell County High School Seniors. Main features of the family-oriented holiday festival are the “Kids Zone” and live entertainment on the square. Interested vendors/exhibitors can learn more at


Rotary District Governor Isaac Owolabi, above center, made his official visit to Caldwell County Rotary Club. Owalabi, a member of the Asheville -Biltmore club, reminded Rotarians of the 2018-19 theme for Rotary: “Be the Inspiration “. He encouraged club members to reverse a recent trend in District 7670 membership. The 48 clubs have lost 155 members over the past 5 years. Over 2200 Rotarians are members in the District. Rotarians have led a 30+ year fight to eradicate polio thru contributions to the Rotary Foundation. Recent data shows less than 15 cases in the past year, all in third world countries. Assistant Governor David Wachtner, above right, from the Lenoir club introduced Owolabi. Club President Courtney Wright, above left, presided at the meeting.


Rotarian Kay Crouch, above right, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the historical significance of the Nazi efforts to censor music during the reign of Hitler from 1933 to 1945. Labeled “degenerate music”, work by Jewish composers and artists were banned from radio and public performances. At the beginning of Hitler’s tenure, some 8000 musicians of Jewish heritage were fired from their jobs. Works by composer Felix Mendelssohn and others of Jewish heritage, were banned, while German composer Richard Wagner was featured in public performances. Rotarian Kent Greer, above left, introduced the program.


Dino DiBernardi, above left, Director of Emergency Services for Caldwell County,Told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the services rendered by his department. Most people think of the traditional ambulance service, but there are 5 divisions: Fire Marshall, EMS Chief, Communications Director,Safety Officer, and Emergency Management Coordinator. Plans are moving forward to replace the current downtown EMS station with two more regionalized locations in Valmead and Lower Creek. Once completed, the County will have 7 bases with 8 ambulances in service at all times. DiBernardi says the County works to keep service costs as low as possible. Some 92% of billable services get paid. Approximately 159 full time, part time and volunteer staff serve the county. Some 15,000 calls are handled each year. Emergency vehicles are expensive.The cost of one ambulance is about $250,000. This is equal to 8 patrol cars. Annual mileage is about 35,000 to 50,000 miles per unit. Rotarian Ralph Prestwood, above right, arranged the program.


Caldwell County Agriculture Extension Agent Seth Nagy told members of Caldwell County Rotary how drones are being used to evaluate and enhance agricultural production. Nagy, a model airplane pilot, recently began to fly drone aircraft after completing qualifications from the FAA. He said the use of drones helps farmers made decisions about crops, herbicides, and other uses that enhance production. Some local farmers use drones to herd cattle.


Jeff Bentley, above right, Director of the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the history of the facility and operational data. Some 500 to 600 events are held each year at the Center which is part of Caldwell Community College. About 95% of the facility operational costs are recovered thru usage fees. Foothills Preforming Arts is now the residential theatre for the facility. It is also home to the Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame, and it's annual induction ceremony. Bentley gave a review of the upcoming Showcase season. An official announcement will be made next month. Some 70% of all ticket sales are from outside of the Lenoir zip code. Rotarian Kay Crouch, above left, introduced the program.


Ellen Roberts, above center, with the master gardeners and Ellie Snyder, right, horticulture agent with the Caldwell County Extension Service told members of the Caldwell County Rotary club about master gardeners and community gardening. The master gardener program is a volunteer program focused on gardening education. The national program began in Washington state in 1972. In North Carolina it began in 1979. Currently the program exist in 90 counties with 4500 volunteers. In Caldwell County the program currently has 30 volunteers. In order to be a master Gardner one must complete a structured program and do 40 hours of volunteer work with 20 hours in each subsequent year. Community garden sites in Caldwell County are on Beall Street and Unity Park and Community Garden on College Avenue. There are three types of garden plots; public u pick, demonstration gardens, and private Gardens rented by individuals. Funding for the gardens comes from grants, rental fees and donations. Rotarian Charles Beck, above left, arranged the program.


Virginia Lopez, above left, Nutrition Educator with NC State Extension, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the NAP-ED program Steps to Health.The federally funded program assists persons of all age levels with education about food and nutrition. Participants must be eligible to participate or involved with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A variety of local organizations partner with the Extension Service to serve those in need. Some 70 counties in North Carolina participate in the program. Lopez serves in both Burke and Caldwell Counties. Learn more by contacting the local office of Extension Service.
Rotarian Dr.Jeff Church, above right, arranged the program.


Scholarships were awarded to two high school seniors by Caldwell County Rotary Club. The scholarships are given each year in the memory of two former Club Presidents, Carroll Laxton and Steve Jaynes, who are deceased. Valued at $1000, it marks the 35th consecutive year the club has awarded scholarships, which have a cumulative value of over $61,000. West Caldwell Senior Katie Bolick, front above left, and South Caldwell Senior Madison Moore, front above right, are the recipients. Bolick plans to attend UNC-Wilmington and pursue a degree in nursing or education. Moore plans to attend NC State and pursue a Business degree with a career in financial management. Hibriten student Tory Hayes was unable to attend. Members of the club scholarship committee reviewed approximately 50 applications before making the selections. Committee members are above left to right, Bruce Cannon, Dr. Jeff Church, and Kay Crouch.




Tom McRary, above right, CEO for West Caldwell Health Council, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary about the variety of services offered by the federally qualified community health center. Formed in the late 1970's in Collettsville and expanded to Happy Valley in the 1980's, the clinics provide sliding scale services in primary care, dental and behavior health services. Some 4000 patients accounted for over 21,000 visits last year. West Caldwell Health Council has also partnered with Helping Hands, Caldwell County Shelter Home, the County Health Department and Yokefellow to expand services to the community. A future clinic opportunity is being developed with on site services for Caldwell County College. All this is accomplished with a staff of 2 Doctors, 5 Nurse Practitioners, and a staff of support people. Rotarian Jeff Joines, above left, arranged the program.


John Boyd, above left, Supervisor for the Guardian ad Litem program in Caldwell County, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club that some 207 children from Caldwell County are served thru the program. The independent investigative agency is part of the Court system. They work to protect children who have been abused or mistreated. Much of the work is done by volunteers who make periodic reports to the Courts about the child. Volunteers attend some 25 hours of training before being partnered with a child. Most spend 4 to 6 hours per month with a child. Some 15,000 children across North Carolina are assisted by the Guardian ad Litem program.Rotarian Kevin Miller, above right, arranged the program.


 Deborah Ashley Smith, above left, Business Development Executive with Caldwell UNC Health Care, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that renovations to the Lenoir Main campus continue, while other sites are expanding services.
There are now 8 sites that offer various and specific services to the community.
Later this year the current site of the Hospital Foundation office will be demolished to allow the construction of a new 27 bed behavior health center. Work is underway for extensive revision and expansion at the Southfork Medical site. Future expansion is also planned at the Westpointe Medical site in Gamewell. She also noted that Caldwell UNC Health now employs over 1000 medical professionals in the community. Rotarian Ron Beane, above right, arranged the program.  


 Jason Lingle, above right, Energy Solutions Manager for Blue Ridge Energy, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about a new voluntary program to hold down power costs. Called "beat the peak", it encourages Blue Ridge members to shift or reduce their use of electricity during peak periods, when people use the most electricity all at once. This mostly occurs between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on hot summer days. Some 2000 Blue Ridge members have taken action to better plan their electric usage and will receive a text, email or phone call to tell them future times. Small individual savings can make a significant dent in the overall power expense for the Coop. Rotarian Jeff Joines, above left, introduced the program.

John Francis, above right, Executive Director, and Gina Price, above center, with Helping Hands, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the on-going efforts of Helping Hands. Now in it's 20th year of free non-profit medical and pharmaceutical care for un-insured Caldwell residents, Helping Hands has over 1500 patients and assisted with some 18,000 prescriptions during 2017. New partnerships with West Caldwell Health for behavior health treatment and Caldwell County Health Department for dental care are adding other services for those in need. Rotarian Bud Watts, above left, arranged the program.



April Austin, aboveright, Director of the Caldwell Senior Center, told
members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that over $1.1 Million
was saved, benefiting Caldwell residents in finding low cost Medicare
prescription drug plans in 2017. That is just one of the many benefits
that local residents enjoy thru the Senior Center. It opened in 1987
and was the first Senior Center in North Carolina
to be built by the community. Over 3100 people are members, but
the Senior Center served over 29,000 individuals in various ways
during the past year. Rotarian Seth Nagy, above left, arranged the program.


Dr. David Lowery, above right, chief medical officer for Caldwell UNC healthcare,
told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the opioid crisis in
our nation and locally. Opiates are a class of drugs made from the Opium poppy.
It was developed as a pain killer.Federal regulation began in 1938 and has evolved
over the years. Today, an average of three people die each day in North Carolina
due to opiate overdoses. Another 12 are hospitalized daily, with most of those being
admitted thru emergency room visits. During 2015, there were 10 deaths in Caldwell
County attributed to overdoses, 642 deaths across NC and 1100 deaths in the US.
Laws have been changed in NC to limit access to painkiller prescriptions for patients.
Rotarian Bill Sproul, above left, arranged the program.


 Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons, above right, and Lenoir City Manager Scott Hildebran, above center,
updated members of Caldwell County Rotary on the state of the city. Their remarks
covered information over the last 18 month's of new developments for Lenoir. During
this time the City began a new branding campaign called “together we create.” Lenoir
recently experienced the third Wi-Fi upgrade in downtown provided by Google. Also
discussed were Capital Improvement projects and updates to pedestrian traffic. Lenoir’s
greatest need is for market-rate housing, infrastructure repairs and replacement, and
retaining talented staff. Rotarian Charles Beck, above left, arranged the program.


 Libby Brown, left, director of public relations for the Caldwell
County Schools, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary
Club about efforts to keep students safe in our school system.
Brown noted that most active shooters are young people. Since
1999 (Columbine) there have been 208 active shooters across
the United States. In Caldwell County, the first person on the
scene is authorized to neutralize the threat. The Caldwell County
Schools has had a crisis management plan since 1995. It includes
practices and procedures, training and facility planning. Rotarian
Courtney Wright, right, arranged the program.



Greg Cutler, above left, Director of Special Projects, at Excela Pharma Sciences, told members
of Caldwell County Rotary Club about their line of speciality pharmaceuticals. Founded in 2004 by Phanesh Koneru, the company now employs some 288 people in Caldwell County. It all begins with research and development and continues thru the process to produce generic and proprietary injectable and sterile ophthalmic products, Excela is on the cutting edge of medical advances. Rotarian Kent Spears, above right, arranged the program.

Rotarian David Gray, above left, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about
kidney disease. Gray was a kidney donor for another family member in 2003.
Kidney disease can be inherited or caused by diabetes.The kidneys filter about
200 quarts of blood per day. One of the biggest challenge with kidney transplants
is organ rejection. Recipients take medications to reduce those probabilities for
the rest of their lives. Club President Kent Greer, above right, introduced the program.


Officials with Thermal Valley Hang Gliding told members of Caldwell County Rotary
Club about their tandem flights from 2000 to 5000 feet in elevation from their location
off the Calico Road. The aviation business provide spectacular views of Grandfather
Mountain, Table Rock and Hawksbill mountains, as well as South Mountain and the
Catawba River. Dr. Laura Pearson, left, is co-owner with her husband Craig Pearson,
right. Pilot Larry Falls, center, gets the pleasure of taking customers for the thrilling ride.
Thermal Valley is featured in the February 2018 issue of Our State Magazine. To schedule
an appointment visit their website at or by phone at 828-292-7473.
The program was arranged by Rotarian Chris Cole.


Cindy Day, Interim Director for the Caldwell County Heritage Museum, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the origins of Davenport College, the site of the museum today. Begun in 1855 by the Methodist Church, Davenport was a college for women only. it stayed in operation until 1926 when it merged with Greensboro College.
The only remaining building of the campus is the home to the Heritage Museum. The public is encouraged to learn more about Caldwell County history by visiting the museum, located at 112 Vaiden Street. Rotarian Kevin Miller arranged the program.


Grey Scheer, above right, Director of Community Relations for Blue Ridge Energy, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the Coop's effort to help those in need thru their Member's Foundation. Called "So No One Goes Cold", the Foundation assists families with high utility bills related to the recent record cold weather. During the last ten years, the Blue Ridge Member's Foundation has assisted over 15,600 families with high energy bills. Some $1 Million dollars has been given in assistance to members and another $2 Million in grants to various local non-profits. Members contribute thru Operation Round Up by giving a few pennies each month. Some $200,000 in contributions were made in 2017. Rotarian Jeff Joines, above left, arranged the program.


Scott Hildebran, aboveright, Lenoir City Manager, told members of Caldwell County Rotary Club about his recent visit to South Korea. Hildebran displayed a variety of photos that highlighted the trip. The South Korean capital, Seoul, has a population of 26 Million people in the metro area. Their density is 8 times that as New York City. Numerous well know brands such as Samsung, LG, Hankook, Kia and Hyundai are Korean companies. Rotarian Charles beck, above left, arranged the program.


Elechia Morgan, above left, a Granite Falls native, is the Owner/ operator of
MuscleRx in Hickory. Morgan was accepted into a three-year trial
program for medical manual therapy. She completed an elite internship
at Duke Medical Center. She specializes in corrective manual and
stabilization therapy. He work experience includes various professional
sports teams including the New Orleans Saints and Texas Rangers.
Rotarian Jeff Church, above right, arranged the program.


Retired Senior Superior Court Judge Beverly T Beal, above right, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary about some of the humorous events he had witnessed in Court. Beal served as a Judge for over 20 years, mostly in western counties, and recounted a particular case in which DNA evidence was contested. Rotarian Bud Watts, above left, arranged the program. 


For over a decade, members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club have ushered in the Holidays with a mini-concert by local musicians Kay and Patrick Crouch. Kay, above left, is a member of the club, and along with her husband, Patrick, above right, they organize the Caldwell Traditional Musicians concert at the J E Broyhill Civic Center. The 20th anniversary concert will be held March 10th.


Three more local groups have been awarded funds for their
holiday cheer efforts by the Caldwell County Rotary Club.
From the above left: Michael Riggs, Advisor to the West Caldwell
High School Interact Club; John Francis, Director of Helping
Hands, and Lisa Clontz, Director of the Shelter Home. The
contributions came from fund raising efforts during the year
by the club members. Club President Kent Greer, above right, made
the presentations.


 Three local organizations have received funding from Caldwell
County Rotary Club to help spread holiday cheer this year.
The donations come from the club’s various fund raisers during
the past year. From above left to right: Will Wakefield, DSS Director
accepted a check on behalf of the Foster Children program; Angel
Moretz,Executive Director of the Soup Kitchen; and Sharon
Osborne, Executive Director of Yokefellow, each accepted on
behalf of their organizations. Club President Kent Greer, above right,
made the presentations.


Angel Moretz, above right, Executive Director of the Soup Kitchen, told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that the local non-profit has been serving Thanksgiving meals for 35 years. In recent years, Mooresridge Catering has led the effort to prepare and serve the meals. The Soup Kitchen has been at the 1113 College Avenue location since 1991. On a typical day, between 70 to 100 lunch meals are served. Sunday meals are served beginning at 4 p.m. Food comes from charitable donations, USDA allotments and three annual food collection efforts. Club President Kent Greer, above left, introduced the program. 

Martin Easton, above left, and Don Gardner, above right, told members of the
Caldwell County Rotary Club about their recent trip to the Galapagos
Islands off the South America coast. Known for it’s unique wildlife,
and opportunities to see the rarest of animals up close, it is a World
Heritage site. Rotarian Bill Sproul, above center, arranged the program.


 Rotarian Kent Spears (above), project coordinator, reviewed final plans for the Lenoir Downtown Christmas Festival which is set for Saturday November 18th. Caldwell County Rotary Club, along with the City of Lenoir, Downtown Merchants, and Corporate Sponsor, Chick-Fil-a, are sponsoring the event this year. Live entertainment will be highlighted with craft and food vendors, and the arrival of Santa to downtown Lenoir. Hours of the festival are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year marks the 4th annual festival.
Funds raised from the project are used by Caldwell County Rotary to fund scholarships to graduating high school seniors.


Rebecca Hite, second from above left, a volunteer with the local
Wig Bank told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club
about the services offered thru the non-profit. Now in its second
decade of service, the Wig Bank offers wigs, wig supplies, jewelry,
scarves, hats, and turbans to women, men or children who are
battling cancer or other diseases in which treatment causes them
to loose their hair. Located at 226 Mulberry Street, the Wig Bank
is staffed by volunteers. Also attending the meeting were volunteers
Becky Gibbons, second from above right, and Susan Gray, above right. Kent
Spears, above left, arranged the program.


Aja Williams, above right, Manager of Anytime Fitness, told members
of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that Anytime Fitness is the
#1 fitness facility in the United States with over 3000 locations.
The facility focuses on fitness and nutrition thru holistic approaches
that are results focused. Williams also noted that Anytime Fitness
also engages in a variety of community service projects. Rotarian
Courtney Wright, above left, arranged the program.

Grey Scheer, above left, Director of Community Relations for Blue Ridge Energy,
told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about the 10 year
anniversary of the Blue Ridge Members Foundation. Scheer noted that
the foundation’s primary focus is to assist residents in crisis with heating
assistance. Additionally, the Foundation will surpass $1 Million in local
community grants made available to local non-profit organizations in the
Blue Ridge service area. Later this year, the Foundation will pass $3 Million
in total giving from the members who participate in Operation Roundup.
Rotarian John Coffey, the COO for Blue Ridge Energy, arranged the program.


Dr. James Hathorne, above right, Oncologist at McCreary Cancer
Center, a part of UNC Healthcare, told members of the
Caldwell County Rotary Club that 99% of the services
offered at the Lenoir location are equal to cancer treatment
efforts at any other facility. The McCreary Cancer Center
is a top scoring facility for patient satisfaction within the
UNC Health Care System. Crystal Dula, center, Outreach
Coordinator for the Center, introduced the program. The
program was arranged by Rotarian Bruce Cannon, left.


Shirley Kanode, left, a Community Emergency Response Team member,
told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club about volunteer efforts
from local citizens. Their primary focus is to educate people about disaster
preparedness and to assist in times of emergencies. An affiliate of REACT
International, the Caldwell CERT members will conduct a basic CERT
course at the County Health and Human Services Building during the week
of October 9th. The five sessions are free to the public. Those interested
should send an email to to learn more
information. Rotarian Chris Cole, right, arranged the program.


David Barlowe, left, a Lenoir realtor for nearly 4 decades,
told members of the Caldwell County Rotary Club that
Lenoir and Caldwell County are similar to the rest of the
nation in being a “sellers market” for residential real estate.
This region is suffering from a lack of new construction
starts and is a market that does not support speculative
building projects. Rising costs of building materials have
also hurt new building starts. While local foreclosures
have returned to normal levels, Barlowe noted that the
efforts to sell land has seen drops in value. Rotarian
David Gray, right, arranged the program.