Lenoir was built on music. At Tucker’s Barn in the late 1700s, area residents would gather for everything from voting to frolicking at the meeting place that would become the city of Lenoir.
The music that was played there must have stuck in the dirt and air, because it’s still there today, says J. Neal Isaac, organizer of Loving Lenoir 2013, the third annual celebration of the city’s musical heritage.
Once, the Happy Valley 4-H clubhouse was new and covered in fresh paint, winking bright green at drivers who passed it on Roby Martin Road. The club stopped meeting in the 1980s and the clubhouse did what old buildings tend to do: It fell into disrepair.
Last week, a group of 4-H club members and their parents came to Bryant’s house armed with rakes, gloves and power tools. To mark National 4-H Week, Oct. 6-12, they cleared brush, rolled away tires and unearthed the little clubhouse.
In the sanctuary at First Baptist Hickory last week, a journey started that will end oceans away.
For 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has offered hand-packed shoeboxes full of small gifts for children in countries around the world. It’s a project overseen by Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief charity founded by Billy Graham’s eldest son, Franklin.
Since 1993, more than 100 million of the shoeboxes have been given away.
A gunshot set the group running up the hill away from the pond, starting the 2.5-mile route through the fields and woods that looped back to hay bail obstacles and then down toward the pond, where the trail disappeared into the woods. Before they finished they had to navigate a Slip'N Slide, a “swamp tromp,” then lift tires and haul cinder blocks before reaching the finish line, marked by a shower.
This was the inaugural Soldier Run, an obstacle course that tests more than a person’s running speed and stamina, but pushes athletes to work through tough obstacles. The race was part of the Endure event Saturday, hosted by the Dudley Shoals Baptist Church, featuring a 5K trail run and a family fun run. Organizer Patti Lail said more than 300 runners registered.
West Caldwell High School's speech and debate course launched last year and is sharing a time slot this year with a new honors class for returning students. On Oct. 12, students in the honors class will travel to North Mecklenburg High for their first debate tournament – making them the first competitive high school debate team at West and, at least for now, the only one in the county.
Native to Korea, brown marmorated stink bugs first crawled their way into North Carolina in 2009, after entering the United States in 2001. These insects start making their way into warm structures – like your house – in September and October, seeking winter shelter. They can’t harm people, but they do, true to their name, secrete a chemical that doesn’t smell particularly pleasant if you squish them.
Before the next time it rains, go out and look at the sidewalks surrounding the square in downtown Lenoir.
There you’ll be able to see, in sprawling pastel color, the things that make second-graders happy.
The Caldwell County Agricultural Fair started in 1946 when a group of county farmers joined together to celebrate their harvest but has grown into one of the largest annual events in the county, drawing some of the largest crowds.
The fair has not lost its connection to those first farmers, though. This year’s theme, “Reap What You Sow, Eat What You Grow,” focuses on values, "being good, honest, caring people, especially during difficult socioeconomic times, and preserving a lifestyle that is prominent in many counties of Western North Carolina,” president Janice Moses wrote in this year’s fair program.
On Friday, red- and blue-shirted players tangled on the ball field at Redwood Park in Hudson. Spectators perched on the bleachers and watched. Reporters, desperate to find a story to file, patrolled the sidelines with their notebooks.
But the action on the field was academic, not athletic. It was the “Battle of Redwood,” a first-time event that aimed to teach students, in short, about perspective – and how immediate, primary sources differ from later historical accounts.
As it turned out, one of the first tasks the Rockit presented for its first staff – after that inappropriate word made it on the air – was sifting through those files of music to figure out which songs could stay.
But that task was tackled, and now the Rockit is celebrating its 10th anniversary. South may be the only high school in the state to have a station licensed by the FCC and broadcasting throughout the county instead of on a closed circuit within the school.
Caldwell Friends, a nonprofit based in downtown Lenoir, pairs at-risk kids referred by school counselors with volunteer mentors, who spend at least two hours with them every week. The goal, program manager Liz Eller said, is to “inspire, enrich and enable” kids.
During those weekly visits, mentors often set up activities, but it can also be something as simple as running errands together.
Marty G. Waters founded Marlin Company Inc. with his mother, Linda K. Waters, in 1992, when he was the only employee, but today Marlin occupies more than 100,000 square feet and employs 30 people while producing about 1.8 million pounds of chemical products each month.
The Marlin name is a combination of the two founders, Marty and Linda, and that same family and community cohesion has pervaded the company since, now including Marty’s father and a strong presence in Lenoir.
The contents of classroom-sized area at the Lenoir Police Department changes constantly. About 60 new items come in each week -- mason jars of moonshine, Bibles, guns and ammunition, credit cards, clothing, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, electronics, jewelry, keys, cash, camping equipment, brass knuckles, swords, a gumball machine, urine (yes, urine!) and more. Even a diaper pin.
A sign atop the entrance of a plain, one-story building in a sharp bend of Hartland Road near the Burke County line says "Hartland Coffee Shop," but the building sits empty most of the time.
In a Hickory gym where the floor springs and the smells of sweat and chalk swirl together, two Caldwell County gymnasts flip, vault and twirl four nights a week.
The two of them have crossed “go to nationals” off their bucket lists, but “graduate from middle school” – well, that one’s still in progress.
Isaac Bast, 12, a student at William Lenoir Middle School, and Carter Lewis, 12, a student at Hudson Middle, are competitive gymnasts at Foothills Gymnastics in Hickory. Both competed in April at the Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships in Portland, Ore., and Isaac placed fifth on still rings.
Just inside the front door of JoAnn Nichols' home sits a gray recliner, a half-finished quilt furled at its feet. A large, surgical-looking lamp reaches above the chair from an end table, and a bag of needles and thread sits beside it.
This is the chair where Nichols quilts. Mostly. She has a sewing room with machines, fabrics and all the works, but the chair, beside an identical one where husband, Lloyd, sits, is where most of the work on her quilts is done, some of them taking up to two years to complete.
The T.H. Broyhill Walking Park will be abuzz Saturday with artists registering and setting up for the Sculpture Celebration, which opens to the public at 9 a.m. The event is free. The judge's walking tour of the winners starts at 3:30 p.m.
This weekend’s is the ninth annual Happy Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, which takes place in a cleared field between N.C. 268 and the Yadkin River, with small mountains looming up on the south side of the river. The edge of the field near the river is lined this weekend with a couple dozen camp sites, where the distant music from the convention site blends with the rushing of the river and the occasional nearby informal jam session.
Following a community dance on Friday and a slate of competitions on Saturday, the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention will present a lineup of nine bluegrass acts on Sunday. Here's a little bit about three of them, the South Carolina Broadcasters, The Edwards Family, and the David Wiseman Band, in a question-and-answer format. Learn about more in the Friday and Saturday editions.
Before Caron Baker Wike was a full-time potter, she made pottery as a hobby. Before that, it was an interest. Even before that, she played in the mud.
“It was just a natural thing,” she said. At a year old, she was tagging along with her grandmother to sculpture class.
Today, Baker Wike spends her time at her studio in the old Lenoir High School creating, teaching and firing up kilns in what used to be the boys locker rooms, looking down on the old football field.
Mikeal Knight spent much of the past 44 years making sure the News-Topic got printed, from the days of having to cut and paste the pages together by hand to getting computer-generated printing plates shipped electronically from Kentucky.
Wednesday was the last time.