The year 2004 had the good and bad, but mostly good. The moments of crime and violence are always around, but nothing stands out as in past years.
The shock story of the year is probably that of school board member Jean Dellinger being charged with receiving stolen goods. Now in her 70s, Dellinger has served on the school board for some 25 years and was chairwoman at the time of her arrest. This unlikely story unfolded after an investigation into thefts and break-ins attributed to her son. Her case has yet to be scheduled for trial and she continues to serve on the school board.
Another school board member, Fred Jarrett, also found himself in the headlines after a bout with depression. Jarrett lost his seat as chairman but continued to serve on the board. This story had an interesting, positive twist as Jarrett spoke publicly about his struggle with depression and how he managed to find the right treatment. He was re-elected to his seat on the board.
During the November elections voters elected two members to the County Board of Commissioners, Marie Moore and Alex Patton. Incumbent Larry Craig sought re-election but lost. The new board will be led by incumbent Tom Anderson, who received more votes than any other candidate. The election upset story goes to Patrick McHenry of Cherryville. Only 28 at the time, the Gaston County House member took on a slew of heavy-weights and managed to win the seat held by retiring Congressman Cass Ballenger.
The most positive story for the schools was passage of a $47 million bond issue that will allow the school district to build new schools and renovate some of the old ones. The fact that the bond vote passed with a comfortable margin was a clear expression of confidence in our school system.
Some other milestones:
Â· Chip maker R. W. Garcia announced plans to invest $4.6 million in a new plant located in the Lincoln County Industrial Park that eventually will employ 75 workers
Â· Piano maker Kawai American, a fixture in Lincoln County since the late 1980s, announced it will close its plant in early 2005.
Â· Lincolnton High celebrated its Centennial with a variety of nostalgic activities.
Â· The school board finally approved middle school cheerleading after a major lobbying effort by supporters.
Â· The threat of wind and rain from Hurricane Ivan shut down Lincoln Countyâ€™s Apple Festival. That decision drew some scorn when the bad weather never materialized.
Â· Gaston College launched a campaign to expand its Lincoln Campus with the addition of a $2 million science and technology center.
Those are just some of the highlights. See our page 1 story for a complete rundown of 2004, mostly a good year for Lincoln County.