News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
           December 22, 2015

Make a Memory and Ring in 2016 in Style
Welcome the New Year in style at the Inn At Glen Alpine. The fun begins at
10 pm and continues until 1 am. Advanced tickets are required, so please call The Inn at 828-584-9264 to reserve yours. Ask about our special room packages just for this special occasion. Add another special touch by taking the Ridge Line trolley to the Inn.
Connect NC Bond: Invest in Our Future
Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of Chamber newsletter articles leading up to a vote on the NC Bond Referendum next March. If approved by voters, the $1.2 billion statewide bond package would designate more than $91 million for projects in Burke County.
The last time NC voters voted on and approved a statewide general obligation bond to upgrade our state’s infrastructure was 15 years ago. Since then, the Tarheel State has grown by about two million people. On March 15, 2016, voters will have an opportunity to approve a $1.2 billion bond package. Proceeds from the sale of the bonds will connect North Carolina to the 21st century through statewide investments in education, parks, safety, recreation, and water and sewer infrastructure.
Burke County stands to receive more than $91 million if voters statewide approve the bond sales:
— $58 million for the Western NC School of Science and Math in Morganton
— $23.3 million for a National Guard Training Facility in Burke County
— $5.1 million for Western Piedmont Community College for new construction, renovation and repairs
— $3 million for renovations at Lake James State Park
— $2.25 million for improvements at South Mountain State Park

The Connect NC bond will let us pay for 50-year assets with 20-year financing. No tax increases will be needed to finance the bonds, given the state’s strong revenue growth and ample debt service capacity. NC will continue to balance the budget and uphold its position as one of only 10 states to have earned the coveted AAA bond rating from all three major ratings agencies.

SBA Accepting Nominations                                                                   for 2016 Small Business Person of the Year Award
Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy.
The dedicated website  provides criteria and guidelines for submitting a nomination. For 2016, the nomination criteria have been streamlined and simplified.  In years past there were multiple forms, letters and documents required; now the nominees are only required to submit one form and questionnaire.
SBA Awards given in celebration of National Small Business Week, May 2-6, 2016, include the Small Business Person of the Year.
All nominations must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. ESTMonday, Jan. 11, 2016. In addition to the website, North Carolina nominations can also be sent directly to:  U.S. Small Business Administration, North Carolina District Office, Attn: April Gonzalez, 6302 Fairview Road, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28210, For information contact April Gonzalez, 704-344-6811 or

New Life Floor Care Brings New Technology to Surface Cleaning  
Owner Travis Benton of New Life Floor Care enjoys showing “before and after” videos and photos of his firm’s patented technology at work. “We use state-of-the-art equipment and EPA/environmentally friendly  sol utions to remove, dirt, grime, oil and bacteria from surfaces ranging from tile floors, pool decks, concrete, carpet, natural stone and more,” Travis said. “Many times the transformation is dramatic.” He added, “Not only is all our work guaranteed, we also guarantee 100% customer satisfaction.”  For a free demonstration, call(828) 403-5443. For more information, visit New Life’s web site here.
New Clinic Cuts Costs for Employers,                                               Increases Convenience for Employees
Employers searching for ways to lower healthcare costs, while making healthcare more efficient and convenient for employees and their dependents, now have a new option. Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) Blue Ridge and HEALTHWORKS have opened the Employer Shared Clinic, located  inside the CHS Blue Ridge Urgent Care Center at Morganton Heights Shopping Center. The new clinic offers a long list of occupational health services, including pre-employment screenings, drug screenings, treatment for work-related injuries, biometric screenings, health coaching and related services that are tailored for individual employers. The Employer Shared Clinic offers many of the same benefits as an on-site clinic located inside a company but at a far more affordable and predictable cost, just $18 per employee per month for each employee covered on the employer’s health plan. There is no additional cost for dependents on the plan. HEALTHWORKS can also arrange tailored health fairs and educational seminars for the workplace. For more information, please call Ashley Brown at 704-631-1102 or e-mail her at
Club Fitness Opens Area’s First 24-Hour Gym
Marion-based Club Fitness celebrated the opening of its third location with a ribbon-cutting and Member Appreciation Day at its newest facility, located in the Fiddler’s Run Shopping Center in Morganton. “With award winning Personal Trainers, ClubFitness will develop a physical and nutritional training plan for your life, and we are not just about lifting weights either,” said co-owner Danny White.
The new facility is open   24-hours a day with access via a key card provided to members. Club Fitness is equipped with state of the art equipment, treadmills and elliptical machines that include individual TV’s, cardio equipment and an expansive weightlifting area with free and dead weights.  Amenities include instructional fitness classes, includingPi-Yo (combines Pilates and Yoga), personal trainers, individual or family membership packages, and “True Fitness Training”; a fitness triangle of cardio training, nutrition and strength/resistance training.
For a tour, call (828) 652-5122 or visit Club Fitness at its Fiddler’s Run location just off Exit 104 on I-40.
Clients Join Ervin to Celebrate Opening of New Tax Prep Office
More than a hundred clients joined Accountant Rebecca K. Ervin for the grand opening of her new office located at 101-A Carbon City Road in Morganton, across from Ingle’s. For nearly 30 years, Rebecca has specialized in tax preparation and full accounting and payroll services for individuals and small businesses in communities across Burke County. An IRS-registered tax preparer, she started her own firm in 2010 and recently began providing services for the former clients of accountant Todd Carswell. For more information about Accountant R.K. Ervin’s professional services, reasonable fees and pickup and delivery services, call 828-437-2555.                                                                                                                                                                                                              
ERA Mountain View Properties Opens in Downtown Morganton

Downtown Morganton’s newest business specializes in finding just the right real estate for people searching for homes and property in Western North Carolina. The team of real estate professionals at ERA Mountain View Properties has just opened a beautifully renovated office at 134 West Union St. in downtown Morganton between The Natural Olive and The Grind Café.       Co-Owner/Broker Rhonda Edge cut the ribbon officially marking the grand opening, as her team and a crowd of guests and well-wishers looked on. “Our experience and knowledge of our location means we can find you just what you are searching for,” Rhonda said. “We have a wealth of knowledge of real estate in Western North Carolina, Lake James, Burke County and other nearby communities. We know real estate and have a track record to prove it.” A real estate professional since 2005, Rhonda has lived in this area her entire life, so she’s known all along what others are just now discovering – that this area is both a place of great beauty and a great place to live. For more information and to speak with a real estate professional, call 828-433-8777.

A Caring Alternative Moves into New Quarters
After nearly ten years in its former location, A Caring Alternative has moved into a spacious new facility in downtown Morganton, The comprehensive care agencyprovides mental health and substance abuse services to adults, adolescents, and children in western North Carolina. Basic services for adults and children include a wide-ranging assessment, medication management and psychological evaluation. These help set the stage for individual, family and/or group therapy, depending on a person’s needs. More intensive support is also available to adults, including a Community Support Team and a “hospital without walls” that provides maximum support for consumers with severe mental illness to reduce hospitalization and maximize recovery. Children can receive additional support through intensive in-home services, day treatment and even alternative home placement for children in foster care who have severe behavioral challenges. A discounted sliding fee schedule is available. No one is denied access to services due to inability to pay.
Development Director Teagan Brown said, “We were founded on the belief that when people truly care and are willing to go the extra mile, we will not only improve lives, we will create success in the lives of the people we support. Time and again, we have proven that and we will continue to do so.” For more information about A Caring Alternative, visit the new offices at 617 South Green St. in Morganton or call              828-437-4999.

Partnership Brings New Playground to Connelly Springs

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and KaBOOM! recently partnered with Warlick’s Baptist Church to bring a new playground to Connelly Springs. Over 250 volunteers from Warlick’s, the nearby community and other areas of Burke County gathered on November 14 to kick off the  building process. Thanks to the help of a professional playground installer, volunteers installed a Superdome, Sky Link, Log Hop, Adventure Bridge, and more. The playground –which officially opened up for play on Tuesday, November 17— will be accessible to nearly 250 children in the community and is the tenth playground built in rural North Carolina by the Trust and KaBOOM! The groundbreaking brought together the entire community  Organizers said they were  pleased with the effort put forth by those who volunteered to give Burke County children a safe place to play and be active.

Are You Looking to Grow Your Western NC Bases Business?

Mountain BizWorks is now accepting applications for the 2016 ScaleUp WNC Cohort.  Up to 30 high-potential small businesses from across WNC will be accepted.  Deadline to apply is January 31. Click here for full program details and to apply.
While starting a business is hard, scaling a business is equally hard, and often requires different strategy and skills than used in the startup phase. The ScaleUp WNC program works with existing entrepreneurs and small businesses owners from across WNC that have demonstrated initial success and have potential for significant growth.  There is no cost to participate.
Using a cohort based approach, with 15 businesses accepted into each group, ScaleUp WNC provides mentorship, management training, growth capital connections and other critical resources to help companies achieve sustained growth and contribute to the small business-led economic development of our WNC communities.  Ideal applicants will be founders or executives of growth-oriented small businesses based in WNC, with annual revenues between $150k-750k, with at least one full time employee, and with identified opportunities for expansion. Cohort 3 will begin in March, and Cohort 4 will start in June. Based on previous interest, Mountain BizWorks may fill both cohorts from applications received during this application window.

Duke Energy Awards Foothills Conservancy
Grant to Stabilize Island in Lake James
A Duke Energy Habitat Enhancement Program (HEP) grant will allow Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina to work with Lake James residents to control shoreline erosion at one of the lake’s large islands, in order to protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Over several years, many small islands in Lake James have disappeared due to erosion from heavy wave and boat wake action, and island erosion impacts the lake’s water quality.
Residents in Waterglyn and Lake View Shores approached Foothills Conservancy with their concerns about erosion at theisland, which is located at the tip of Waterglyn. Thus far, several “Save-the-Island” residents have pledged donations totaling $13,400 to match the $19,740 HEP grant. Funds will be used to stabilize the island’s shoreline and add habitat enhancements, so that wildlife and the public can continue to enjoy the benefits of this island.
The island, which is owned by Duke Energy, appears in many iconic photos of Shortoff Mountain. In addition, many people enjoy canoeing, kayaking or swimming to the island and exploring there.Green and Great Blue Heron and Osprey, as well as other birds, frequent the island, perching high in the trees to locate fish before diving in for the catch. A Bald Eagle has been seen washing off at the water’s edge after its meal. And local fishermen say the best walleye and other fish are caught off the deep end of the island.
“This unique project is a great way to partner with local residents to improve wildlife habitat at Lake James” says Foothills Conservancy’s Stewardship Director, Andrew Kota. “We are eager to put the grant money from Duke’s HEP program to work and hire an experienced contractor to stabilize the island with natural boulders in 2016.”

Registration for Spring Semester at WPCC is January 6-7

Registration for 2016 spring semester classes at Western Piedmont Community College will be held on Wednesday, January 6 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. andThursday, January 7, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the college campus at 1001 Burkemont Avenue in Morganton.
Students participating in spring semester registration will meet with an academic advisor, sign up for classes, and pay tuition and fees. This registration is open to any new or returning students who are prepared to pay all costs associated with enrollment.
Financial Aid for Spring Semester is available; however, students who have not completed the financial aid process will need to be prepared to cover the cost of enrollment. A tuition payment plan is available.
For more information on the tuition payment plan, the enrollment process and a complete listing of course offerings at WPCC this spring semester, visit the web site.

The College will be closed Monday, December 21, through Friday, January 1, and will reopen Monday, January 4.  New students who need to complete the admission and financial aid applications may do so online before January.  Visit here to get started.

Spring 2016 Semester classes begin on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.
BCPS Briefs: News from Our Public Schools
FFA programs receive Duke Energy donation
Duke Energy presented $3,000 to East Burke High School and $3,000 to Freedom High School for their Future Farmers of America programs. East Burke will use the money to purchase tables for the school’s greenhouse and Freedom will use the money to start an agriculture welding program. The N.C. Agriculture Education office encouraged ag teachers Jess Schermerhorn at East Burke and Dustin Haigler at Freedom to write a letter to Duke Energy requesting the funding and explaining its purpose. Robin P. Nicholson and Wayne Huddleston with Duke Energy presented the checks to the schools this week. Randy Burns, Burke County Board of Education chair,  said, “We extend a very special thank you to Duke Energy, Robin Nicholson and Wayne Huddleston for their generous gift to our agriculture programs.”
Mobile Pre-K program hosts parties
The Burke County Public Schools MobilePre-K program hosted parties for students and family members this week. Western Piedmont Community College, for the second year in a row, donated a room on its campus for the party, which is a great way to get students thinking about college even before they start kindergarten. The event included food, goody bags, crafts and carols. A grant from Smart Start helps fund the program, which serves 84 3- and 4-year-olds at six different sites around the county on three buses (Bust’r, Betsy and BeeBee). In the above photo are teachers Becky Buchanan and Brandy Sexton and students from Bust’r Bus’ Liberty site. For more information or to apply, visit
Freedom’s Walden Honored as Assistant Principal of the Year
Freedom High School Assistant Principal Gayle Walden is Burke County Public Schools’ assistant principal of the year. She holds a bachelors degree in administrative management from Clemson University. Gayle received her teaching certification from Lenoir-Rhyne University and a master’s in school administration from Appalachian State University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has a gifted education licensure.
Walden said she has taken nuggets of wisdom from the different management styles of each of the 10 different principals and seven different assistant principals she has worked with during her career.
Walden is married to Karl, a retired captain with the Morganton Department of Public Safety, and they have two children, Amanda Highley, media coordinator at Forest Hill Elementary, and Jake Walden, 1st
Lieutenant in US Army, stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado and preparing for a deployment in Afghanistan. She is the daughter of Claudette and Eddie Reece, of Morganton. Walden enjoys traveling, camping, hiking and reading and is a member of El Bethel Baptist Church where she is involved in community service.

Two make it to NFL Punt, Pass Kick finals

Morgan Smith, from Walter Johnson Middle School, and Madyson Grainger, from Drexel Elementary School, made it to the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick finals at Bank of America Stadium before the Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, Dec. 13. Morgan finished second in her age group and Madyson finished third. The girls were down on the field before the game started to mingle with players and were allowed to run through the tunnel and be introduced on the big screen.
Bridgeway Solutions and Salamander                                               donate accountability software 
Bridgeway Solutions and Salamander have donated an accountability system to the fire academies at Patton and Draughn high schools. The donation includes software, printer, cards and more. The Burke County Public Schools fire academies will be the first in the state to use the program to teach and utilize firefighter accountability. Western Piedmont Community College Emergency Services Director Mike Willis helped the fire academies establish the partnership with Bridgeway Solutions and Salamander.
WPCC Alumni, Students and Faculty Featured in Film Screening
Students, alumni and faculty from Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) participated in the 2015 International 48 Day Film Project, a subsidiary of the US production, 48 Hour Film Project, which is a global short film competition.  Collaborating with teams from five continents, the North American team, which includes 13 members representing WPCC, plan to host an exclusive, one-time screening of the International 48 Day Project film Legend Within on Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Marquee Cinemas in Morganton.
This event will help the group raise funds to attend the Filmapalooza festival in March, 2016 in Atlanta, GA, where the film titled Legend Within will officially debut.
Cast and crew on the North American team represent faculty, alumni and students from WPCC’s Drama, Digital Effects and Animation Technology (DEAT), and Simulation & Game Development (SGD).  Drama program representatives include cast members Deborah Lonon (faculty), Donnie Ray Banks (alumnus), Anna Branam (alumnae), and Curtis Coleman (alumnus).
Representatives from the DEAT program include cast member Broaderick Horton (alumnus) and crew members Julie Whitis (alumnae), Edwin Dennis (faculty), Roderick Horton (alumnus), Robin Wright (alumnae), Jodi Ford (alumnae), and Corey Wall (current student).
Representatives from the SGD program include crew members Rick Lonon (alumnus and faculty member) and Jessie Rosenberger (current student).
Julie Whitis is the team leader of the North American team dubbed “Team Artivational”. All teams who participated in the 2015 International 48 Day Film Project were city winners of various 48 Hour Film projects across the nation. Team Artivational was the winner of the Asheville 48 Hour Film competition, which took place this past summer.
Groups from five continents, including North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia were selected to collaborate on this feature length film. The international teams met, collaborated, planned, shared materials, and became a strong, unified group entirely through utilizing video conference calls, social media sites, file sharing sites, and messenger applications.
For more information and to see the trailer about the film or, to purchase tickets for the Morganton screening, please
WPCC’s Digital Effects and Animation Technology (DEAT) Associate in Applied Science degree is designed to provide students with the training necessary to become competent in creating, manipulating, and animating digital images.  To learn more about the DEAT program, please contact Jonathan Crumpler, coordinator/instructor at 828-448-3544 or at
The College’s Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) programs in art and drama prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions.  The drama degree introduces students to the art, craft, and business of theatre through a study of dramatic literature, stage history, and elements of play production.  To learn more about the College’s drama program, contact Deborah Lonon at (828) 448-3519 or at
Persistence Pays Off, Too
Continental, Leviton, WPCC Help Student Achieve                         Computer Engineering Career Goal 
2015 was an important year for Alex Miguel.  Nine years ago he enrolled at Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) seeking to earn a college degree.  He tirelessly worked towards this goal by taking one class at a time and maintaining full-time employment in local industry.  His dedication and persistence paid off this year.
“It’s been a long journey but I’ve made it and I can’t wait to receive my degree,” said Miguel who finished classes on December 16 and has now graduated with an associate in applied science degree in computer engineering technology.
The computer engineering technology program prepares students to use basic engineering principles and technical skills for installing, servicing, and maintaining computers, peripherals, networks, and microprocessor and computer controlled equipment.  Graduates should qualify for employment opportunities in maintenance, programming, and other areas requiring knowledge of electronic and computer systems.  Graduates may also qualify for certification in electronics, computer, or networks.  To learn more about WPCC’s computer engineering technology program, contact Gregory Buchanan, program instructor at 828-448-3560 or With the combination of his newly acquired college degree and his years of work experience, Miguel has gained the necessary engineering and programming skills to move forward in his career.  However, he remembers a time after high school graduation when he was working in the fast food industry with an uncertain future.  Then he found employment at Leviton, a local manufacturer willing to give him a chance at a new career.
“I had never even picked up a wrench but they gave me a shot and I found I really liked it,” he explained. Miguel quickly realized he had an affinity for working with automated machinery and electronics.  He also found support and mentorship from a Leviton employee who supervised the company’s apprenticeship program which was offered through Western Piedmont Community College.  Miguel’s coworker encouraged him to enter into the apprenticeship program and pushed him to keep taking classes.
While it was challenging to balance his work and schools schedules, Miguel connected with his classes and ultimately received his industrial technology certification from the college.    He knew that he wanted to move forward in his career so he decided to continue his education and training by enrolling in WPCC’s computer engineering technology program.The schedule was grueling but he made steady progress toward his goal. He would typically work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then head to WPCC for an evening class.  He continued this pace for eight years while working at Leviton but eventually set aside his employment so he could take day-time classes and accelerate completion of his degree.  Because of his skills and training, he was able find employment at Continental in Morganton working a second-shift schedule so he continue taking classes.
Miguel acknowledged that Continental has been supportive of his career goals.  At one point, he even worked a month on third shift just to ensure he didn’t miss a class he needed.  He said that the combination of working in industry while taking classes strengthened his trouble shooting skills. “I’m pretty good at it now,” he said.  “Something that might take someone else an hour, I can trouble shoot in 15 minutes“.
Miguel’s new goal is to become a Level II Technician at Continental.
When thinking back on his journey, Miguel offers this advice to people interested in furthering their education, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how old you are or what you want to do,” he said.  “The students in my classes have ranged from 17 years to 50 years old.  If you stay focused and committed, there’s a place for everyone at Western Piedmont.”

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