Volcanoes erupted. Small black scorpions turned blue. Mouse ribcages were plucked from owl pellets, and all the while, Buff the stuffed owl watched over the “Scorpions, Owls and Bears, Oh My!” science festival.
A bright red crawdad, towering over 6 feet tall, ambled through the hallways of Sawmills Elementary School. Dressed in a Hickory Crawdads baseball T-shirt and Hawaiian-print shorts, the crustacean mascot was on his way to deliver news to fourth-grader Nathan Connor.
It’s Saturday, and the halls of South Caldwell High School are quiet.
That is, until a shout of “No running in the halls!” echoes around the corners of shining lockers and squeaky floors as a blur of neon-clad runners whiz by.
The halls nearby reeked of formaldehyde. In the classrooms, groups of four gathered around a tray full of juices and dead pig on its back, its legs splayed out to expose its belly. Volunteers from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, including Mark Bodnar and Kelsey Toliver, coached the students through the assignment.
Tuttle Educational State Forest, located in southwest Caldwell County, is home to many hands-on learning activities and programs, including several amphitheatres, the Forestry Center and more talking exhibits. Every pathway in the 300-acre forest strives to educate on soil, water, wildlife and forestry.
Amos Rutherford has held many different titles in his lifetime – farmer, soldier, mechanic – but on Saturday, he earned a new one: centenarian.
March 15 was Rutherford’s 100th birthday, a warm day made warmer by the presence of friends and family gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Lenoir to celebrate the life of the man they call Pops. And from his days with the Army to his days working at Don Campbell’s Exxon in Lenoir, Amos has had no shortage of friends.
In her room at Gateway Nursing Center in Lenoir, Ethel Crump is passing the last days of her 99th year, full of memories still.
Crump, who will turn 100 on Saturday, spent much of her life in Caldwell County. As a child, she lived in Mortimer. As far as her family knows, she may be the last person surviving who remembers living in Mortimer before it was effectively wiped out by flooding in 1940. As an adult she lived in Lower Creek and the Globe, and until her move to the nursing home she lived on Staircase Mountain with her late husband, Carl.
At nearly 100, it’s harder for Crump to tell her stories. Her family remembers them coming constantly in earlier years, a rain of stories, trickling down through their shared histories. She built her life on them.
The Junior Appalachian Musicians program offers students a low-cost opportunity to study old-time fiddle, old-time guitar, blues guitar, songwriting and old-time mandolin. The program began in the fall of 2011 through a Traditional Arts Program for Students grant from the North Carolina Arts Council for after-school programs that bring local traditional arts to students, Program Director Adrienne Roellgen said.
Hunched over a ceramic tile, 9-year-old Ashley Moreira watched with apparent concern Monday as Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons dipped his brush into light blue paint, then swept it across the tile.
“You’ve got to make it perfect,” Ashley told him.
Gibbons and Councilmen T.J. Rohr and Ben Willis joined West Lenoir Elementary School students to paint tiles for the Caldwell Community Gardens wall mural. Each sat down with one or more students to create his piece of artwork.
Philip Wike was raised in farming cattle. His father and his grandfather before him raised cattle, and today the family owns and rents farms in Caldwell County, raising cattle, chickens, corn and more.
With farming, each day is a new experience, and he gets to work outdoors. But, he said, the most rewarding is getting to see things grow up, seeing the fruits of his labor, working for himself and being his own person.
For Wike, the newly elected president of the Caldwell County Cattlemen’s Association, there’s no other way to live.
Inside a small, brick building in Hudson, over the sound of scissors slicing into hair, the conversation flows without stalling, as it has for 45 years.
Opened as Hall’s Barbershop in 1969, under owner Stanley Hall, the building serves an identical purpose today. It’s now Andy’s Barbershop, operated by Andy Johnson, a barber who got his haircuts at Hall’s as a kid.
But calling Johnson a childhood customer of Hall’s is probably underselling the relationship.
After hearing of Blue Ridge Tissue Company for the first time, one would think that the product would be narrowly focused -- maybe a few varieties of tissue paper.
But from the company’s 78,000-square-foot facility on Yadkin River Road in Patterson, 25 distinct grades of tissue and nearly 2,000 other products are produced and shipped internationally.
At each of eight tables, students hovered over a black, metal box, unpacking rainbow-colored wires and shining metal parts, diving in to assemble the pieces, looking more like surgeons on the operating table than students putting together computers.
Thursday was the third annual computer-building workshop with Google, and this year the focus was on teaching kids just what it takes to work in the technology and computer-based fields, including more than just the working parts of a computer.
Now just a cotton-pickin’ minute here.
Do you mean to tell me that someone is trying to move Mayberry out of North Carolina to some spot way up North?
Uh-uh, naw sir, that won’t do. That won’t do ay-tall.
On acres of sloping land dotted with grazing horses, and inside a building where rows of nameplates spell out horses’ names, Amber Gelinas is living a dream.
Gelinas, a lifelong lover of horses, came to Lenoir from Mooresville along with Matt Hartline and their daughter, Matilyn, to open Oakwood Stables on Pisgah Church Road. For the last year and a half, they’ve offered boarding and lessons in various riding styles, along with birthday parties, guided trail rides and monthly game nights.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, lovingly known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” has been riding a roller coaster of funding challenges over the past three years, taking the biggest hit in March 2013 from budget cuts forced by the sequester.
Once a week at Baton Elementary School, a 29-member archery team composed of fourth- and fifth-graders meets to practice. On Thursday, they competed in National Archery in Schools’ North Carolina state tournament.
Whether they’re on the team or not, every fourth- and fifth-grader at Baton gets to learn archery. It’s part of the National Archery in Schools program, which in North Carolina is administered by the state Wildlife Resources Commission.
Raylo Smith hit the gym Tuesday, the first step toward getting his strength back and getting back to the work he knows best – laying brick.
He walked through the lobby of Quest 4 Life Wellness Center and rode up the elevator, receiving waves and brief greetings from people already working out. He climbed on the treadmill and started walking. Easy.
In Lenoir, as Black History Month gets off the ground, organizers are working to make a real impact on the area’s youth, keeping the focus on history that’s close to home.
Lester Whittington, supervisor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, said this year the focus is on students, educating them about the history of the black community in Caldwell County and working to get young people involved in carrying on the community’s legacy.
Rose Noakes came to Lenoir deliberately, scrutinizing cities in the Southeast, staying in hotels for weeks at a time trying to find the place with the right ingredients — community, culture, people.
It wasn’t an easy journey, but when she got to Lenoir, it was an easy choice. Noakes was looking for a place to start her dream.
As happens each Valentine's Day, a slew of couples filed into the city-county chambers of the Alden E. Starnes Administration Building in Lenoir, all set to get married. There were 17 of them, some in jeans or leggings, some in wedding dresses. Some brought full wedding parties along, while others got married alone.
It’s a product that’s uniquely Western North Carolinian, conjuring images of backwoods mountain men brewing spirits in copper stills nestled in hollows.
And soon, perhaps, a batch of traditional mountain apple brandy distilled in Lenoir could be bought halfway around the globe in China.
Winter has worn out its welcome.
The brief spell of spring-like weather at the beginning of last week drove home that my body is ready for winter to be over. A couple of days after the high temperature peaked in the 60s, we had high temperatures in the 40s and lows in 20s. In January that would have felt positively temperate. Not now.
The iconic artist Andy Warhol used Polaroids and black-and-white prints to document the world around him, in painstaking detail.
This month at the Caldwell Arts Council, a collection of the prolific pop artist’s photographs are on display alongside the work of Lenoir photographer Bob Phipps and strobe-photography pioneer Harold “Doc” Edgerton.
The Hibriten chorus program, which has ballooned from 30 students to 70 in the last two years, is working to pay for its April trip through two Disney-themed fundraisers, both scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Hudson Uptown Building: a “Royal Tea” for kids at 1 p.m. and a “Magic Kingdom Dinner Theater” at 6:30 p.m.