News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
March 25, 2016


 
Help shape the future health of Burke County. 
Take the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment Survey from the Burke Wellness Initiative.

Offers Scholarships, Pay and Benefits, State Recognition
Continental Expands Apprenticeship Program 
Continental Corporation’s Morganton operations are expanding its Apprenticeship program to include more eligible western North Carolina students while offering educational cost incentives including paid books and tuition.
Students entering the Continental Apprenticeship program receive a full-time job, on-the-job training, a debt-free college education and a North Carolina Department of Commerce Journeyman’s Certificate.
Eligible candidates must be at least 18-years-old, have a 3.0 GPA, an excellent attendance record with their high school, be interested in high-technology manufacturing, possess strong technical skills and be self motivated. Continental’s Apprenticeship is being expanded to include students from public, private and home schools in the North Carolina counties of Burke, Caldwell, Rutherford, Catawba and McDowell.
“This is an exciting expansion for local communities and students,” said Vincent Wilson, Continental Business Systems Manager, who supervises the apprenticeship program. “By collaborating with our local high schools and community colleges to identify and recruit eligible students, we are filling our employment needs and are able to offer local students exciting high-tech, good-paying and stable jobs that have a promising future, as well as helping the local economies by hiring local students.”
The expanded Apprenticeship Program is also conducted in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. At the end of their successful completion of the training, participants earn a North Carolina Journeyman’s certificate as well as a U.S. Department of Labor certificate.
“We welcome this job-training program and know it will continue to sharpen the skills of our workforce,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “The Apprenticeship Program will become a valuable part of our strategy to strengthen the state economy and close the skills gap that many industries are experiencing.”
For more information on the Continental Apprenticeship Program in Morganton, contact Vincent Wilson, Continental Business Systems Manager, 828-584-5577 orvincent.wilson@continental-corporation.com.
Continental develops intelligent technologies for transporting people and their goods. As a reliable partner, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner provides sustainable, safe, comfortable, individual, and affordable solutions. In 2015, the corporation generated preliminary sales of approximately €39.2 billion with its five divisions: Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain, Tires, and ContiTech. Continental employs more than 208,000 people in 53 countries.
To learn more about careers at Continental, please click here.
Award-Winning Brewery to Expand to Second Site
Foothills Conservancy, Fonta Flora Brewery Partner 
to Protect Historic Whipporwill Dairy Farm 
Whippoorwill Dairy Farm, a beautiful, historic Burke County farm, will soon be permanently protected thanks to a unique partnership between Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and Fonta Flora Brewery.
With funding from private donors and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Foothills Conservancy has purchased the majority of the scenic farm, approximately 40 acres which border Paddy’s Creek, and will donate the land to the adjoining Lake James State Park later this year.
Fonta Flora brewer and co-owner Todd Boera refers to the project as “a dream come true.””[Fonta Flora co-owner] Mark Bennett and I spend a lot of time roaming around Morganton on bicycles. I kept riding past the Whippoorwill Dairy property and thinking it was so gorgeous – a dream for anyone interested in historic buildings and agriculture. We knew we wanted to build our second brewery out in the country, but Whippoorwill always seemed like an unattainable dream. Thanks to our partnership with Foothills Conservancy it has become a reality.” he said.
Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton has purchased 8 acres of the former dairy farm fronting Highway 126, including most of the old stacked-stone barns and structures, to expand and create a farmhouse brewery and will convey a permanent conservation easement on the property to Foothills Conservancy.
Fonta Flora plans to restore the buildings, with a priority of keeping the old stone walls intact. The walls are built of river stones from Paddy’s Creek, which flows along the back of the property before draining into Lake James. The new 15 barrel (Bbl) brew house will have 30 Bbl fermentation and conditioning tanks that will allow Fonta Flora to brew approximately 2,500 Bbls during the first year of production. This will roughly quadruple their current production capacity.
The farm’s backdrop is the beautiful scenery of Shortoff Mountain, the Linville Gorge and Pisgah National Forest. The parcel that will be added to Lake James State Park also contains an important piece of American history: a segment of the National Park Service’s Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
“Permanent protection of the Whippoorwill Dairy Farm is a wonderful success story- it’s one of the most historic and scenic sections of the landscape around Lake James,” says Andrew Kota, Foothills Conservancy stewardship director.  “Adding most of the farm to Lake James State Park will extend protection and public access along Paddy’s Creek. This acquisition effort is a great example of the creative collaborations that can form around protecting our region’s special places. Fonta Flora’s mission is focused on agriculture and sustainability and depends upon clean water, so having their brewery expand to this historic land is a natural fit.”
 “This property will be a valuable addition to Lake James State Park, and just as valuable are the community partnerships we’ve been able to forge in developing this park,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “The collaboration of  Foothills Conservancy and Fonta Flora Brewery is a great example of creative thinking for conservation.”
Establishing its new brewing operation at Whippoorwill Dairy is especially meaningful for the Morganton-based brewery because of its namesake, the Fonta Flora sharecropping community that existed along the banks of the Linville River in the late 1800s, before being flooded to create Lake James.”We adopted this name to honor and revive this part of our region’s history,” notes Boera. “Now we have an opportunity to put our second brewery right near where the original Fonta Flora settlement existed more than a century ago.”
Fonta Flora’s brewing, bottling and packaging will take place in the main barn, and barrel conditioning will eventually be housed within the former milking parlor building. In keeping with its commitment to using local Appalachian flora in its brews, the brewery has plans for gardens and orchards on the property to cultivate harder-to-find ingredients like pawpaw and persimmons, as well as herbs, vegetables and berries.
“The addition of a farmhouse brewery at Whippoorwill dovetails well with Fonta Flora’s overall focus on local and sustainable ingredients,” says co-owner David Bennett.
Funding for Foothills Conservancy’s Whippoorwill purchase included a challenge contribution of $172,000 from Fred and Alice Stanback, which required a two-to-one match. The match was met with a generous leadership gift from George and Ann Costello combined with individual donations from Mike and Betsy Blair, Javier and Yngrid Chacon, Andy and Bridgette Davis, Joseph and Katharine Lagedrost, Dan and Lisa Oberer, and Charles and Jerelen Ohrt. Grants from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Mountain Mini-Grant Program completed the project’s matching funding.
Since 1995, Foothills Conservancy has protected more than 49,500 acres, including lands added to South Mountains, Lake James and Chimney Rock state parks; Wilson Creek, South Mountains and the Johns River state game lands; Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land trust also assists landowners who wish to permanently conserve privately owned farm and forest lands with conservation agreements.
Founded in 2012, Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton, NC integrates the soul of agriculture with the artisanship of zymurgy to create a menagerie of rustic and savory libations. With an emphasis on seasonal flora, Fonta Flora brings English tradition and Belgian inspiration to the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Fonta Flora utilizes local artists to help conceptualize the notion that fermentation is yet another medium for creating art. This uniquely artisan approach to beer yields a sustainable product filled with culture from our very own community.

Attention All Chamber Members: Looking for Summer Help? 

The Burke County Public Schools may be able to help. The 2016 Summer Internship Program is      win-win effort for students and employers alike. Career Counselors in the schools are now accepting applications from students for the program. Jamie Norton — Career Development Coordinator, Instructional Management Coordinator, and Internship Coordinator — said the schools are eager to work with any area business planning to hire seasonal positions this coming summer, ranging from routine general duties to internships related to a student’s career interest. She added that some students may even receive academic credit for the work. For more information, please call Jamie at Draughn High School at (828) 879-4311.

Easter Egg Hunt Set for Sunday in Valdese
 
American Legion Post 234 in Valdese will hold the Ruth and Henry Bounous Memorial Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 27, at 2:00 p.m. Renamed in 2015 to honor the grandparents of American Legion Auxiliary past president Julie Bounous Huffman, the date this year marks the 70th year for the annual event. The event will take place at the American Legion building located at 709 Church St. in Valdese. It is free and open to all children through the fifth grade. Participants must bring their own baskets to collect eggs. Prizes will be awarded by age group. Call the American Legion at 828-879-8989 after 1:00 p.m. daily for more information.
BRHC Foundation Receives $500,000 Grant from Duke Endowment
The Duke Endowment awarded the Blue Ridge HealthCare Foundation a $500,000 grant to develop a collaborative network of health care, through the Good Samaritan Clinic, for the uninsured whose incomes are between 100 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Funds from the grant will support individuals who incomes are too high to qualify for government-funded programs, but too low to enroll in the health insurance exchange. Patients who qualify can receive general medical care at the Good Samaritan Clinic. If their need exceeds the services offered by the clinic they will then be referred to a local network of medical practices that have volunteered to provide the additional care. Medical care provided to patients in the network will resemble that of those who have insurance. If needed they can receive specialty care, laboratory and radiology tests, among other services. Participants also receive medications at a discounted rate through the Good Samaritan Clinic. Eve, a current patient of the clinic, is one of those individuals. She first came to the clinic because of hip pain, which resulted in a decrease of her mobility. Tests revealed severe degenerative joint disease in both hips. Her only solution was hip replacement. After connecting her with a surgeon, the staff at the clinic was able to arrange for hip replacement surgery. Now two months later, she is scheduled for a second hip replacement and is very optimistic. Those who receive medical care in a primary care setting improve their overall health status, which leads to increased confidence and self-sufficiency, and decreases the use of the emergency room or inpatient care in the hospital setting. “The resources provided by the Duke Endowment will help our community organize a safety net for people who typically wait until their need is critical before receiving health care,” says Will Cannon, president of the Board of Directors of Good Samaritan Clinic. “Promoting primary care for everyone in our community is not only the right thing to do…it’s the wise thing to do.”

McMahon’s “Quilts for a Lifetime” on Display in Morganton City Hall

Come by Morganton City Hall and check out “Quilts for a Lifetime” by Suzanne McMahon. The show will be on display in March and April 2016. Suzanne is a teacher and artist who resides in Morganton, NC. She has been sewing unique and custom quilts using batik fabrics in a variety of styles including tropical, modern, festive, traditional, funk, and folk. Her musings began 28 years ago when she saved scraps and made quilts for her family. She enjoys mixing colors based on inspirations from different travels and adventures. It gives her great joy to create something original and unique with a certain person in mind who will treasure a quilt made with love for a lifetime.

Quilts in the show may be purchased from the artist. More information at www.morgantonnc.gov/art.

 
Grace Ridge Completes a Friendship Garden
A successful fundraising effort culminated with a recent groundbreaking of Grace Ridge Retirement Community’s Friendship Garden, located between the memorycare and assisted-living facilities. “Nature elements like plants, sunshine, water, flowers and birds all help improve our sense of well-being and put us in a good mood. We wanted this area to be inviting for residents and their family members and friends to relax, visit and enjoy the outdoors,” said Grace Ridge Executive Director Brenda Yost. The initial phase of the project began in August 2014, with the widening the walkway and the addition of a koi pond given to Grace Ridge by resident J. Conley Mitchell to honor his brother and fellow resident, Harold. The Friendship Garden was designed by Appalachian Nature Escapes to support the mountain-lodge feel of Grace Ridge. Outcroppings will be built with harvested boulders made of Virginia fieldstone, and featured plants and flowers include maple, conifer, azalea, camellia and hydrangea.
Some Seats Remain for Beer, Barbeque and Whisky Tour
The Ridgeline Trolley tour will cover Fonta Flora Brewery, Brown Mountain Bottleworks, Blue Ridge Distilling (Defiant whisky) and JD’s Smokehouse in tours running April 2, 9, 16 and 23.  For more information or to reserve seats, call (828) 437-3021.
“We are excited about all the ways NC Beer Month is connecting the craftsmanship of our breweries with the dining and recreational wealth across the state,” said Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild. “We call North Carolina the ‘state of Southern beer,’ and the beer alone is reason to visit. Combined with everything else, North Carolina is a must-visit state for beer travel.” Find scores of April events and travel deals at NCBeerMonth.com.

 
Buckled up on the bus
Pilot program brings seat belts to seven BCPS buses
 
The 2016-17 school year will bring clicking sounds to new yellow buses in the Burke County Public Schools fleet. N.C. Department of Public Instruction Transportation Services has accepted Burke County into a pilot program to equip buses with seat belts. Burke will have seven new yellow buses outfitted with lap/shoulder belts by the start of the new school year.
Transportation officials said the goal of the voluntary pilot project, which includes 14 other school districts, is to help policy-makers evaluate future, widespread use of seat belts on North Carolina public school buses.
Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Larry Putnam said, “We jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this new initiative because this is a big deal. In keeping student safety at the forefront of all that we do, we want to be on the front end of this new movement as it progresses across the state. While school buses are safe and durable, they tend to be top heavy and are more apt to roll over. In the rare instance that a bus is involved in a roll-over accident, the seat belts will keep students from being tossed around.”
The seat belts will add up to $12,000 to the $83,000 price tag of a new bus; the state is picking up the tab for the equipment upgrade. To be part of the pilot program, Burke County Public Schools had to agree to several stipulations, including guarantee the belts will be used, train students two times a year on their use, designate school staff members to help ensure the students are buckled up in the afternoon before the bus leaves the school and train bus drivers.
In addition to student safety, one benefit for bus drivers is they may see a reduction in student discipline issues. Students will be required to buckle up and stay buckled up until they exit the bus.
The seat belts will offer flexible seating and accommodate three small students or two large students. The Burke County Public Schools Transportation Department is in the process of determining which routes the new seat-belt-equipped buses will run for the upcoming school year.
Accentuating the Positive..
 
Governor’s School Selects BCPS Students – The Burke County Academically and Intellectually Gifted Department is proud to announce that the following students have been accepted to the 2016 North Carolina Governor’s School: Carl D Hennessee, Choral Music (Bass), Freedom High School;Alexander R Haire, English, East Burke High
 School (left); Hannah M Seagle , Math, Patton High School (center);The students will spend five-and-a-half weeks at Governor’s School as they explore their field of curriculum focus in the residential program. The program is open to rising seniors and is located at two campuses, one in Winston-Salem and one in Raleigh. Only 650 students from across the state are selected each year for the program.
Student’s Woodwork in Art Exhibit — Patton High School student Garen Mull has a piece of woodwork in the Burke Arts Council’s 11th annual Woodworker’s Exhibition at the Jailhouse Gallery. Mull is one of six students in the exhibit and takes a woodworking class at Western Piedmont Community College through the Career and College Promise program. Garen is pictured with his work and instructor John Ferguson.
 
Chesterfield Students Attend Ribbon Cutting — Chesterfield Elementary School students cut the ribbon on a new History Museum of Burke County exhibit. The exhibit is called “Burke County Courthouse to the White House” and features memorabilia from Jimmy Warlick’s collections. Warlick is a former Chesterfield student and financial donor to the school, supporting field trips, books, blankets, food for a backpack program and Macbooks. Warlick owns White House Gifts, a Washington, DC store that specializes in political memorabilia and unique gifts. The museum exhibit includes presidential memorabilia from a Jackie Kennedy dress and bathing suit, to political buttons and campaign slogans.
WJMS Holds Career Fair — Walter Johnson Middle Schoolhosted its annual career fair on March 17. Career professionals from both public and private sectors attended the fair and gave students a glimpse into their workdays. The sixth, seventh and eighth graders visited the various booths and talked with the professionals in the fields that interested them. They included law enforcement, healthcare, cosmetology, STEM related fields and culinary arts. Industry representatives present included Continental and Valdese Weavers; Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge had several booths; local veterinarian and Burke County Board of Education Member Dr. Don Hemstreet was there with his golden retriever, Chester, and goat, Moose; Burke County Public Schools public relations and counselors departments shared about school system jobs and guests included Superintendent Larry Putnam, Assistant Superintendent David Fonseca and Director of Secondary Education and Career and Technical Education Rexanna Lowman.
Students Compete in Archery Tournament — Burke County Public Schools elementary archery students recently competed 2016 NC statewide NASP Virtual Tournament. Salem Elementary School had the No. 1 and No. 5 ranked teams in the tournament. George Hildebrand placed fourth, Glen Alpine seventh, W. A. Young eighth and 12th, Oak Hill ninth, Rutherford College 10th, Valdese 11th and Icard 13th. The top ranked male and female archers in the state are both from Salem,
Catawba Regional Hospice Volunteers Complete Training

 

Catawba Regional Hospice recently welcomed 26 new volunteers to touch the lives of patients and families in local communities. Their training was held Saturday, February 20 and Monday, February 22, 2016, at Catawba Regional Hospice’s Newton campus. 

 

The training class included 21 Catawba County residents, four Caldwell County residents, and one resident of Burke County. Six members of the new class are VolunTeens, between the ages of 14 and 18. They will all help enhance the care provided to local people throughout CRH’s 10-county service area.
Volunteers are valued members of the care team, offering needed support for patients at the end of life as well as for the patients’ families. After completing the class, volunteers will offer administrative support, provide respite for caregivers, serve as companions for patients, and help in other meaningful ways.
For more information on joining the next volunteer training class, contact the CRH volunteer department at 828.466.0466, by emailing volunteer@pchcv.org, or via Facebook.
All returning guests zip for $39 each!
March Madness
During the Month of March
Zip Season is here!
The spring birds are singing and the zips are soaring!
Call and mention you are a return guests and save $20 off each persons zip. Minimum 2 guests required.
For more info, go to the beanstalkjourney.com
Zip for Only
$39 each
Reservations Required
Month of March only

32nd Annual Golf Classic

SAVE THE DATE
Monday, May 2, 2016
Mimosa Hills
News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
March 17, 2016


 
 

Nearly 200 Attend Annual Meeting
Kelly Messenheimer Named Ambassador of the Year 
Business owner, community leader
To the applause of her fellow volunteers, Kelly Messenheimer steps forward to receive the 2015 Ambassador of the Year Award.
and Chamber champion Kelly Messenheimer was honored as the Burke Chamber’s top volunteer at this year’s Annual Meeting. Kelly’s fellow volunteers selected her as the 2015 Ambassador of the Year, but the honor was kept under wraps until Tiffany Poteat, Manager of Marketing and Sales, made the announcement at the event. Before presenting Kelly with a plaque marking the award, Tiffany noted that Kelly “represented the Chamber at every special event in 2015 and brought a sunny disposition with her every time.” Kelly has served as an Ambassador for more than 15 years.
Chamber Board Chairman Kenneth Geathers, Town Manager of Rutherford College, honored two Board members at the meeting. Lamar Smitherman, publisher of The News Herald and The McDowell News, and Guinn Huffman, owner of Time Saver Storage, just retired from the Board of Directors after completing two terms of service. Mr. Geathers thanked both for their six years of service and presented each with a plaque from the Board.
Mr. Geathers also introduced three new Board members who attended their first meeting on March 14. They are Kolby Watts, chief operating officer of Wendy B’s Embroidery, Screen Printing and Promotional Products; Nina Linens, Sales Leader for BH Media; and Rich DeAugustinis, plant manager for Packaging Corporation of America.
The Burke County Chamber of Commerce welcomed a special visitor last weekwhen Kazuhiro Takami stopped by for a visit, accompanied by several staff members from Viscotec. Takami was in Morganton for a Board of Directors meeting for the company. Back home, but he serves as the Executive Director and Secretary General of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Economic Directors in the Fukui Prefecture in Japan. The Fukui Chamber serves more than 6,000 businesses with a staff of 50. Assisted by an interpreter, Takami and Davis compared notes about their respective Chambers and discovered that, despite the obvious differences, both chambers and their members face similar challenges. Fukui, Japan, is also the corporate headquarters of Seiren Co. Ltd., Viscotec’s parent company.
 
Acres + Ales and Spring Hike on Tap for this Weekend

As spring beckons us to enjoy and protect the great outdoors, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina invites members, donors, and the community at large to two public events the weekend of March 19-20.

On Saturday, March 19 from 5-10:30 pm, Brown Mountain Bottleworks in downtown Morganton will host the second annual Acres + Ales membership drive for Foothills Conservancy. During the drive Brown Mountain Bottleworks will give a raffle entry and special gift for each conservancy membership purchased or renewed. They will also donate $1 to Foothills Conservancy for every pint of beer sold.

The evening will include live music from Michael Hefner and Friends (6-8 p.m.) and The Clyde’s (8:30-10:30 pm), food from Hunter’s Chicken and Waffles, lots of great beer, and raffle prizes. Acres + Ales is open to the public. For questions or additional information, contact Beth Willard-Patton at 828-437-9930 orbwillardpatton@foothillsconservancy.org.

Then, on Sunday, March 20, Foothills Conservancy will host a day hike in the South Mountains Game Lands. Led by friend of the conservancy Burwell Byers and Land Protection Director Tom Kenney, the four-hour outing takes place on the conservancy’s first completed land protection project, the Rollins South Mountains Game Land tract. The majority of this tract lies in Rutherford County, with a total of 42,000 acres of public, state conservation lands.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m., the strenuous loop hike will cover some peaks of the South Mountains range. It begins at Sisk Gap via Roper Hollow Road and will include spectacular cascades along two high-quality streams. Parking and ride-sharing options will be available. Participants should wear hiking boots or sturdy footwear, and bring lunch and water.

The hike is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. For more information, contact Beth Willard-Patton call her at 828-437-9930 or e-mail her atbwillardpatton@foothillsconservancy.org.

Blue Ridge Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Accredited

Blue Ridge Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Morganton, part of Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, recently received program accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

To receive accreditation for a five-year period, a sleep center must meet or exceed all standards for professional health care as designated by the AASM. These standards include personnel, facility and equipment, policies and procedures, data acquisition, patient care, and quality assurance. Additionally, the sleep center’s goals must be clearly stated and include plans for positively affecting the quality of medical care in the community it serves.

“We’re very proud to earn this accreditation,” said David R. Clark, MD. Dr. Clark works with Thomas Kennedy, MD, and Nancy Cook, NP, to diagnose lung diseases and sleep disorders. The office has a full-service sleep lab

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine congratulates Blue Ridge Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine on meeting the high standards required for receiving accreditation as a sleep disorders center,” says Nathaniel Watson, MD, AASM president.

Blue Ridge Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine is located at 2209 South Sterling St., Suite 600. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 828-580-4577.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited a sleep disorders center for the first time in 1977. Today there are more than 2,500 AASM-accredited sleep centers across the country.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is a professional medical society for clinicians, researchers, and other health care providers in the field of sleep medicine. As the national accrediting body for sleep disorders centers, the AASM is dedicated to setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research.

Energize Your Networking
“When Business Cards Aren’t Enough”
How many times have you gained new business because you did something unusual? Here’s a list of rarely used but very effective networking techniques that will help you boost business.
There comes a time in every small businessperson’s life when common networking practices like handing out business cards, attending various meetings and schmoozing with potential clients only goes so far. Eventually, the same old techniques get overused to the point that they become insufficient.

But how many times have you gained new business created a great relationship or watched your website hits skyrocket because you did something unusual? Or uncommon? Perhaps even unexpected? Maybe you were on the right track.

The following is a list of atypical networking techniques that will help boost business. WARNING: They will stretch your courage. They will test your expertise. And they will challenge your creativity. But when business cards aren’t enough, alternative ways to develop and maintain mutually valuable relationships are your ticket to networking success.

1) What’s Your Story?
How did you get your start in business? Did you “fall” into your line of work? Perhaps there was an interesting anecdote, epiphany or event that caused the birth of your business. If so, this is called “Your Story.” Now, it’s not your Elevator Speech or your 30 Second Commercial. It’s your story. And it’s a fundamental tool for helping people and potential customers get to know you.

Here’s the key: write it out. Practice saying it aloud. Make it funny. And tell it to everybody. Not only does this create a memorable presence, but the more you share it with people, the more they will share Your Story with other people. Why? Because people don’t remember things, they remember stories. And after a while, the word about Your Story will spread.

2) Mix the Medium and Wow People

When I receive an email from an organization or business who has a question, wants to work together or just wants to chat, I do something called Mix the Medium. Here’s how it works:
  • The exact moment I finish reading the email, I obtain the person’s phone number (if I don’t already have it.) If there’s no email signature, I look at their email address or go to their website. If all I know is their company, I call Directory Assistance or look them up on City Search. Basically, I do anything I can to get their phone number within the next two minutes.
  • Then I call them right back.
  •  I then say, “Hi, this is Scott Ginsberg. I was in the office when your email came through and I thought I’d call you back!” I say with a big smile on my face.
People love this. I have never done this without completely blowing the caller away. They respond with such excited phrases as “Wow, that was fast!” or “I’m impressed you called back already!” In fact, I recently received an email from a friend of mine who just changed jobs. He was writing to say hello and wish me a Happy New Year. And since I hadn’t heard from Jake in quite a while, I Mixed the Medium and called him right back. Five minutes later he booked me to do one of my speaking programs for his new organization!
3) Network en Masse
Speaking of speaking, here’s another untapped networking resource: local groups, organizations and associations. But I’m not talking about joining; I’m talking about giving a speech. It’s what I call “Networking en Masse.”

Small businesspeople are successful because they’re experts on something. So whether you’re in sales, printing, tech consulting or retail, find a way to transform your expertise into an informative, concise and entertaining speech that will help other people like yourself boost business.

Contact the meeting coordinator of your local Chamber, Rotary Club, Networking Group or Trade Association. They always need speakers. Offer the group a free 15-20 minute program. Include valuable tips, stories, illustrations and examples from your own business experiences that are of interest to the members. By speaking, you position yourself as an expert, validate your credibility and increase your company’s visibility.

4) Write as an Expert
Another underused networking tactic is writing articles or tip sheets about hot topics in your industry. You don’t even have to be a freelance writer or a journalist – just a business professional who can effectively convey his or her expertise in the form of a short article. Similar to speaking, writing articles in a publication read by your target market is the perfect way to position you and your company.

Here’s how to get started with this tip: Go to Google, type in your topic of expertise and the word “article.” For example, if you work in phone book advertising, type in “phone book advertising article.” (Be sure to use the quotation marks.) Hundreds of hits will come up. Read through a few dozen of them. This will give you an idea of what hot topics other people in your industry are writing articles about. Then, find out which online databases, ezines, newsletters or websites syndicated the articles you just read. By localizing these sources, you can contact the editors and inquire about article submission guidelines. (And if you get the opportunity to publish articles online, you can easily email the article link to other people who would benefit from reading your work.)

5) Don’t Fear the Big Shots
You’d be surprised how approachable some of the so-called “Big Shots” are. Great example: At a National Speakers Association Convention in July of 2004, I had the pleasure of attending a session with Seth Godin, best selling author of Unleashing the Ideavirus and Purple Cow. Now, in addition hearing him speak, I’ve also been a frequent reader of his books and articles for years. And a few months after seeing him live I thought, “What the heck…maybe I’ll just drop him an email.”

So it came to pass on October 8th, 2004, that I emailed Seth Godin. I told him how much I enjoyed his speech at the convention and that his work was a big influence on my own books and speeches. I also told him to check out my website, www.hellomynameisscott.com, for it was an example of the kind of idea he so passionately supported.

What did I have to lose, right?

To my surprise about a half hour later, he wrote me back. “Thanks for the kind words, Scott! I blogged your site. Good luck.”

Little did I realize that Seth Godin publishes one of the top ten most frequently read blogs in the world. As a result, I received over 70,000 hits on my website in one day! This resulted in some great new contacts, several exciting business opportunities and the birth of my own blog, which is now a critical part of my business! Which brings me to my last networking tip.

6) Blog For Bucks
If you don’t already have a blog for your business – get one. A blog is an online journal on which you can post comments, links, stories and articles. This popular new medium through which to share your feelings, experiences and emotions is a free and fun way to network with other online professionals. After I talked with Seth last year, I started the blog for my business, and it’s become a valuable tool to stimulate personal dialogue with potential customers. It’s also a great way to let your customers know what’s going on in your life.

For more information go to www.blogger.com; or do a search for any of the various blog providers.

The commonality of these unusual, uncommon and unexpected networking techniques is this: you must do what nobody else is willing to do. Sure, handing out business cards and attending meetings are all good techniques. But everyone does that. So are you willing to practice telling Your Story? Would you call people right back when they’re expecting you to email them tomorrow? Do you have the courage to give a great speech, write a helpful article or start a blog that shares your expertise? And are you willing to get in contact with a Big Shot?

Hope so – because eventually, business cards just aren’t enough!

Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, “the world’s foremost field expert on nametags” and the author ofHELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He speaks to companies and associations who want to become UNFORGETTABLE communicators – one conversation at a time.
NC Beer Month Celebrates Towering Landscape of Brewcraft

A range of new beer experiences will reward travelers during April’s NC Beer Month celebration.
“The numbers alone are impressive,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina, which sponsors NC Beer Month with the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild. “The state has added more than 25 breweries in the last year to pass the 150 mark. But the real excitement lies in the quality and variety of the beer and the experiences in destinations from the mountains to the coast, in cities and towns and colorful communities. Beer travelers will find new reasons to love North Carolina.”
Burke County’s tourism office just rolled out its Beer, Barbeque and Whisky Tour. The Ridgeline Trolley tour will cover Fonta Flora Brewery, Brown Mountain Bottleworks, Blue Ridge Distilling (Defiant whisky) and JD’s Smokehouse in tours running April 2, 9, 16 and 23.  For more information or to reserve seats, call(828) 437-3021.
“We are excited about all the ways NC Beer Month is connecting the craftsmanship of our breweries with the dining and recreational wealth across the state,” said Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild. “We call North Carolina the ‘state of Southern beer,’ and the beer alone is reason to visit. Combined with everything else, North Carolina is a must-visit state for beer travel.”

Find scores of April events and travel deals at NCBeerMonth.com.
WPCC Hosts Readers Theatre Presentation
Ms. Lynden Harris

On Tuesday, March 22, Western Piedmont Community College will host a readers theatre presentation of “The Crossing”  by author Lynden Harris . Two shows will be offered at 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the Phifer Learning Resources Center, Room 99 on the college’s campus at 1001 Burkemont Avenue. This free presentation is open to the public. A reception will follow the evening performance.

Ms. Lynden Harris is the Founder/Director of Hidden Voices, a non-profit organization based in Durham, NC, dedicated to collaborating with underrepresented communities to create award-winning works that allow for a multiplicity of voices and understandings. She also teaches at Duke University and writes about community voices, the arts, and social justice issues. In 2014, she was named a Founding Cultural Agent for the US Department of Arts and Culture, a people-powered movement mobilizing creativity to build a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.

“The Crossing” is based on stories shared with Ms. Harris over recent decades through her work with Hidden Voices. It combines many of these accounts into one single narrative, illuminating the struggles and challenges faced by undocumented immigrants. “The Crossing” has been adapted for the readers theatre and directed by Performing Arts Coordinator, Deborah Lonon. Five additional readers representing WPCC’s faculty, staff, and students will also participate.Icard teacher selected for engineering program

One of Four Teachers in NC
Icard Teacher Selected for Engineering Program
Icard Elementary School teacher Andrea Gladden never throws away a toilet paper tube. Since introducing engineering in her classroom at Icard Elementary School, she has found too many good uses for them. “My classroom has a reuse bin full of recycled materials ready to be devoured by students when they are engineering,” Gladden said. “In fact, I have never found so many ways to reuse toilet paper tubes.”
At first, engineering was a new subject for Gladden, and she wasn’t comfortable or prepared to teach it. Her journey to change that started four summers ago when she was selected for the Mickelson Exxon program and met Exxon Mobile engineers. Two years ago she become part of a study that looks at how elementary students learn about engineering through design challenges. And in January she was chosen for the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) scholarship through the Museum of Science, Boston.
As one of five teachers in North Carolina to participate in the E4 Study (Exploring the Efficacy of Engineering is Elementary), Gladden’s lessons on civil engineering and environmental engineering were videoed and analyzed for two years. She said that study concluded engineering helps students, including exceptional children, learn science. Gladden said EC students respond well to exposure to engineering in the classroom. “It is the engineering…the problem solving. It is the communication and collaboration that those students need to help them be successful. If we are to compete globally to solve the world’s problems, we need to expose our kids to engineering at a young age.”
Now as one of 100 elementary school teachers
Icard Elementary School fifth-grade students in Andrea Gladden’s class weigh “red blood cells” (Red Hots candy) before mixing them with “plasma” (cornstarch), “white blood cells” (marshmallows) and “blood platelets” (sprinkles) during a science lesson.
from 24 states to earn the EiE scholarship, Gladden will receive a complete classroom set of EiE curriculum materials plus tuition and travel to a two-day, hands-on workshop at the Museum in Boston this summer. She also will be able to bring back professional development opportunities for others.
She said, “I have a feeling that there are many teachers who have little or no experience teaching engineering. If they were like me, they know teaching engineering is important and want to try to teach engineering, but they really do not know where to begin.”
Incorporating engineering into her curriculum has renewed Gladden’s love for teaching. She said, “After the E4 Study concluded, I had transformed from a teacher who knew very little about engineering, to a teacher who wanted to teach engineering every day.”
Gladden said the ultimate goal is to introduce her students to engineering and inspire them to consider fields in science and engineering.
Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Larry Putnam said, “I have observed first hand in Ms. Gladden’s classroom. During one lesson, students were simulating an actual oil spill and which materials would absorb oil better than others. The students were so engaged because it was a ‘real world’ problem to solve.”
 
All returning guests zip for $39 each!
March Madness
During the Month of March

Zip Season is here!
The spring birds are singing and the zips are soaring! Call and mention you are a return guests and save $20 off each persons zip. Minimum 2 guests required.
For more info, go to the beanstalkjourney.com
Zip for Only
$39 each
Reservations Required
Month of March only
NC Chamber Signs on to Support 
the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act
All job creators need a health care system that gives them reasonable levels of predictability and flexibility in order to manage the costs of a job, and that’s especially true for owners of small businesses. In an effort to give our small businesses the health care predictability and flexibility they need at the federal level, the NC Chamber recently joined with 167 aligned organizations, including 47 state and local chambers representing 36 different states, to sign on to a letter in support of the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act (S. 1697/H.R. 2911).
This important piece of federal legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last June. If passed by the House and Senate and ratified by the President, the bill would allow small businesses that are not subject to a shared responsibility provision to provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA’s) to their employees with health coverage. This allowance would give small employers – who often do not have the luxury of human resource departments or benefits specialists – the additional flexibility they need to help their employees with rising medical costs and better manage and predict their own health care costs.

The Burke County Chamber of Commerce and the NC Chamber believes small businesses comprise a cornerstone of North Carolina’s competitive state economy, and we join the undersigned businesses and national, state and local trade associations in urging federal leaders in both the legislative and executive branches to move promptly to secure this vital pro-jobs legislation.

Timely Topics from the Small Business Center
Market Your Business by Networking in Your Local Community
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Topic: Marketing and Sales
Emily Ballance.
Speaker: Emily Ballance
If you’re spending lots of time on internet marketing
and social networking, you may be missing the customers, benefits, connections and potential sales within your local community. Successful small business owners must devote time to both to be profitable. Come find out how you can reach potential customers in your local community and gain their trust. This seminar includes tips on face-to-face networking, a powerful and virtually free form of marketing.
WPCC’s Small Business Center has a library of full-length courses provided by SmallBizU, the first online academy created especially for the education and training needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. SmallBizU teaches entrepreneurs about the “3Ms” – Money, Marketing, and Management. It achieves this objective through the delivery of 20 core courses that teach the “language of business” and important trade-skills. Each course is online and full of animated slides accompanied by voice-over narration, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, toolsets, and access to a comprehensive knowledgebase. You can access your course anytime and anywhere.
If you have any questions, please contact Eddie McGimsey atemcgimsey@wpcc.edu or 828-448-6719 or visit WPCC’s Small Business Center web page.

32nd Annual Golf Classic

SAVE THE DATE
Monday, May 2, 2016
Mimosa Hills
News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
February 11, 2016


 
 

Reserve Your Place Today
Leaders from across the State Converge at Business for Breakfast on Connect NC Bonds on February 19
 
The Chamber’s next Business for Breakfast may be your best opportunity to learn about The Connect NC Public Improvement Bonds.
Leaders from NC’s state parks, higher education, National Guard, and agricultural sectors will take center stage on Friday, February 19, to explain the benefits of the statewide bond initiative that, if approved by voters, would bring about $91 million in improvements to Burke County without any tax increases. The breakfast program will be held in the Ervin Community Room at Grace Ridge Retirement Community. A breakfast buffet will open at 7:30 am. The program itself will begin at 8 am and conclude around 9 am.
Guest speakers will be:
Chancellor Todd Roberts of the NC School of Science and Math in Durham,

speaking on the new Western NC School of Science, Math and Technology that would be built in Morganton with $58 million in bond funds;
Brigadier General Kenneth Beard, North Carolina National Guard’s Assistant Adjutant General for Sustainment, who will speak on the $23.3 million the bonds will provide to create a National Guard Training Center in Burke County at the former Western NC Youth Institution;
Dr. Michael Helmick, president of Western Piedmont Community College,speaking on the $5.1 million in improvements the bonds will fund at the college;
Sean McElhone, Western District Superintendent for NC Parks & Recreation, addressing the $3 million in bonds that would be used to make improvements at the Lake James and South Mountains State Parks in Burke County, the only NC county with two state parks.
A representative from NC State will also attend to show how The Connect NC bonds will support research in agriculture, the state’s largest industry,
The event is free to Burke Chamber members but reservations are required. Please make yours by calling the Chamber at 437-3021 or e-mailing cfreeman@burkecounty.org with the names of attendees from your business or organization. The deadline for reservations is next Wednesday, February 17, at 5 pm.
Got Connections?
Get Your Tickets for This Year’s Top Networking Event
 
The 2016 Annual Meeting
Tuesday, February 23, 6-7:30 pm / City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium
Bring your business cards and connect with other businesses across the community. This could be the start of something big!
Enjoy great food and libations 

by FATZ, Liazzo’s, Judge’s, My Local Bakery, Fonta Flora, Catawba Valley Brewery, Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery and Lake James Cellars.
Build your business contacts to the music of Joe Hasty & Centerpiece Jazz.
Tickets are $30 and going fast, so reserve yours today by calling the Chamber at (828) 437-3021
 
Presenting Sponsor 
               
Gold Sponsor                                                           Gold Sponsor
 
Servpro
 
 
 
 
 
7 Easy Ways to Get the Most 
from Your Chamber Investment in 2016
Keep the momentum going for your business by strengthening your partnership with the Chamber in 2016.
  • Keep Your Profile Current.  Go to ChamberMaster and make sure your information is current and correct.  This is the information we use to create our on-line and printed directories. It generates referrals to your business, puts your contact information out front and tells customers about your products and services. Every member has a code to access ChamberMaster and keep information up to date. If you can’t find your code, call the Chamber!  It’s quick and easy.
  • Display Your Business Cards, Brochures, Flyers. Traffic and phone calls are steady at the Chamber. Only Chamber members can use the lobby display to market their products and services to natives and newcomers alike with business cards, brochures and other timely info.
  • Use the Chamber  Website. The website is there for you to stay attuned to upcoming events, news and other information. You can post your own Hot Deals: promotions, discounts or sales for other Chamber members or to the general public.  Recruiting? Post positions you’re looking to fill.
  • Use Our Social Media.  Be sure to “Like us” on Facebook, interact in the newsfeed on the Chamber Wall, find current information and share with other members. It’s a social media world now, and many web visitors check daily for updates.
  • Attend  Chamber Events.  Some of the most effective marketing is still face-to-face. Create a buzz about your company by networking with other Chamber members at networking events we conduct throughout the year: Business for Breakfast, Business After Hours, Ribbon Cuttings, the Annual Meeting, the Chamber Golf Classic and many more.  Start the year out right by attending the Annual Meeting on February 23. It’s Burke County best networking event!
  • Advertise in the Chamber Newsletter.  Your membership dues include a certain number of ads every year in the Chamber’s newsletter that goes to more than a thousand readers.
  • Send Us News about Your Business or Organization. The Chamber should be a part of your media plan. News about new products, staff promotions, new technology, company milestones (safety, anniversaries, awards), and more is news that we want to help you share!
The Burke Chamber staff is here to assist you Monday – Friday from 8  am to      5 pm.  Our goal is to keep you connected while Growing Business and Building Community.
Meridian Yarns Expanding Valdese Operations
The Meridian Specialty Yarn Group, Inc. (MSYG) has announced plans to invest $8 million in its Valdese textile plant, a move that will create up to 25 new jobs over the next five years. Burke Development Inc., in partnership with the Town of Valdese and Burke County, announced the plan at a news conference at the Valdese Town Hall on January 29, to the delight of a large audience of invited guests that include employees from the plant.
“We are excited about the opportunity this new investment represents for us from a business perspective, and also for the town and for our employees,” said Tim Manson, President of Meridian Specialty Yarn Group. “When we developed the business plan for the expansion, we did a great deal of due diligence with regard to the location, and concluded the best place to be is where we are. We greatly appreciate the support of the city and county in helping us though this process.”
MSYG has had manufacturing operations in Valdese since 1994. Meridian manufactures and dyes yarn for various sectors including home furnishings and upholstery, hosiery, apparel, carpets and rugs, sewing thread, craft and industrial textiles. The expansion will include site renovations and construction of a new building on the existing property. It will provide increased dye house capacity allowing for greater flexibility and competitiveness in the marketplace. The company currently employs approximately 140 people.
The project is supported by grants from the Town of Valdese and Burke County. These grants total $900,000 and will be spread over five years. The grants are performance-based and tied to an agreement by MSYG to continue purchasing water from the town at an equal or greater amount than the current amount, as well as the creation of the new jobs. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Commerce has awarded the Town of Valdese two grants totaling $1,898,475 to upgrade the Town’s water and wastewater facilities. These grants were awarded with the condition that the company retains all current jobs in the Valdese facility.
MSYG is a subsidiary of Meridian Industries, a family-owned manufacturing group headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company operates two plants in North Carolina. The production facility in Valdese, located at 312 Columbo Street SW, specializes in package dyeing, space dyeing, top dyeing and yarn printing.

The project has been supported by Burke Development, Inc., Burke County, the Town of Valdese, the Western Piedmont Council of Governments and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Solmate Socks , Sunny Sunnyside Textiles 
Making Socks for Humanity
Hildebran-based Solmate Socks has a strong commitment to helping those in need. For the past 15 years the company has regularly donated Solmate Socks seconds to various charity groups, including homeless shelters all over America. This year it’s expanding in an exciting new direction that will create new socks specifically for those in need. “By partnering with the amazing people all the way up our supply chain, we will be knitting brand new socks and giving them away. We call this program New Hope,” said Lisa Flood who co-owns the company with husband Randy Wakerlin.
Lisa went on to explain that over the years, Solmate Socks has accumulated a significant amount of perfectly good yarn that for various reasons was not being used, enough yarn to knit about 15,000 pairs of socks. In 2015 Solmate Socks decided to donate thousands of pounds of this yarn to create solid colored socks and distribute them to charitable organizations. “We are making them in adult and children’s sizes, because sadly there is a need for warm socks at every age.
Our knitting mill, Sunnyside Textiles, volunteered significant knitting machine time and will coordinate toe seaming and shipping all over the U.S.A.,” she said.
“Solmate Socks also invited our other suppliers to join us in making a difference. Not surprisingly, these amazing companies volunteered to donate either raw yarn materials or their knitting and finishing services.”
In addition to Solmate Socks handling initial yarn donation and project coordination, Sunnyside Textiles will do knitting and shipping, North Carolina Quality Sales will provide finishing, and Colortex and Hickory Throwing are donating additional yarn.
“These five American companies are all pitching in to help those less fortunate. There is no money exchanged, just an honest desire to help. We feel so fortunate to be working with these compassionate companies that together can create warm socks for people going through a rough time in their life. It’s a small gesture, but we believe it makes a huge difference,” Lisa said..
So far, Solmate Socks have been donated to projects in more than 14 states coast-to-coast in the US.
 
Leanne Brittain and Rhonda Abernathy
Join ERA Mountain View Properties 

ERA Mountain View Properties recently announced the addition of Leanne Brittain and Rhonda Abernathy to its team of real estate sales professionals serving consumers in the Morganton and Lake James area.
Leanne Brittain has been a Real Estate Professional since 2010.  She excels at creating a personal connection with each client, allowing her to provide a highly personalized level of service.  Brittain grew up in Charlotte and attended Western Carolina University, where she met her husband, Chris.  He quickly introduced her to his family and to Burke County.  Brittain fell in love with the community and calls it her home now too.  She has been married for over 20 years and has two sons who attend Patton High School.
“Your home is central to the memories you make with family and friends,” said Leanne. To schedule a private consultation to discuss your specific goals, please call Leanne at 828-448-5806.
Rhonda Abernathy has resided in Morganton, NC her entire life.  She enjoys her career as a Realtor because it allows her the chance to help individuals realize the dream of owning a home, buying land to build, or discovering that ideal vacation home.  Prior to her real estate career, she functioned as a registered nurse for 30 years within the regional medical care facilities.  She is married to David Abernathy, MD,  and they have  two grown daughters.”Every day you are presented with opportunities to inspire others,” said Rhonda. “Morganton is a community with classic ‘Southern Charm.’ ” She can be reached at 828-443-2377.
“We are thrilled to have both of these ladies join our team,” said Rhonda Griffin Edge Broker/Owner.  “With their strong work ethic and caring approach to each client, they are going to be a great asset to our company.  As part of ERA Mountain View Properties, Leanne Brittain and Rhonda Abernathy will be able to offer homebuyers and sellers a wide variety of innovative and market-relevant products and services, as well as robust online marketing programs and extensive listing distribution partners.”
Next Training Sessions: February 20 & 22
Catawba Regional Hospice Seeking Patient Volunteers
Catawba Regional Hospice is seeking caring, compassionate volunteers to serve as valued members of the Hospice team and to offer welcome support for patients and families.
CRH has been invited to serve patients in a 10-county region, including Lincoln, Gaston, and Iredell counties. The need for patient support extends throughout the area and offers residents an excellent opportunity to help their neighbors. If you are willing to bring comfort and assistance to families dealing with advanced illness, CRH said your participation would be greatly appreciated.
The next volunteer training session will be held at Catawba Regional Hospice’s main campus (3975 Robinson Road, Newton, NC 28658) on Saturday, February 20 (9am-5pm) and will continue on Monday, February 22 (5:30pm-8:30pm). There is no fee for the training.
The session is designed to educate volunteers on communicating effectively with patients and families, to showcase what hospice is, and to clarify the role of hospice volunteers. After completing the class, volunteers will be able to supply administrative support, provide respite for caregivers, offer companionship to patients, and help in other meaningful ways.
To register for the February session or for more information, please contact the Volunteer Services Department at 828.466.0466 or at volunteer@pchcv.org.
 
New Hand Signals Help Bus Drivers Boost Student Safety
This year all North Carolina public school bus drivers began using hand signals to help students safely cross the road to board the bus. The North Carolina State Board of Education approved this revision to its bus safety policy at its July 2015 meeting.
In the 2014-15 academic year alone, five North Carolina students were injured by motorists passing stopped school buses. Since 1999, 13 students have been killed while boarding or exiting a school bus. North Carolina law requires motorists to stop and remain stopped while the bus has its stop sign and flashing red lights engaged, but, according to research conducted by the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) Transportation Services, most school bus-related student injuries and fatalities stem from drivers who disregard the school bus sign.
“We have over 15 years of data to show that more than 3,000 cars per day are not going to stop. It’s clear that public awareness campaigns alone won’t reverse this trend,” NCDPI Transportation Services Section Chief Derek Graham said. “The revised policy represents a more proactive approach to what bus drivers and students can do to stay safe, even when motorists don’t obey the law.”
Drawing from national procedures as well as school bus safety standards and practices from across the country, the revised policy requires bus drivers to use a standard hand signal that tells students a roadway is safe to cross.
 The hand signal has the following three steps.
1.  Driver holds up his or her palm facing the student until it is safe to cross.
2.  Driver gives a “thumbs up” to the students.
3.  Driver points with his or her index finger the direction in which the child should proceed across the road.
The hand signals empower the driver, usually the only school system employee on the scene, and compel students to consciously assess the roadway by looking at their bus driver before stepping into an active road. The revised school bus policy also requires that school districts document their training and provide training to all students, not just those who ride the bus.
Liberty’s Media Center Receives
James Patterson, Scholastic Reading Club Grant
Liberty Middle School received a $4,000 grant from bestselling author James Patterson to support its media center. In addition, Scholastic Reading Club will match each dollar of Patterson’s donation with “bonus points” that teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms.Liberty Middle was selected from 27,924 applications for funding grants.
As part of an ongoing effort to keep books and reading a No. 1 priority in the United States, bestselling author James Patterson, together with Scholastic Reading Club made a commitment to help save school libraries nationwide. This year alone, Patterson personally donated $1.75 million to school libraries nationwide, with grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 allocated to each of the 467 selected schools.
Liberty Principal Mike Holden said, “Our media center is in serious need of updating its library collection. Media Coordinator Christel Hirsch wrote the grant specifically for acquiring fiction books. We are grateful to Mr. Patterson and Scholastic Reading Club for this generous donation that will be a valuable asset to our media center for years to come.”
Hirsch said she sought young adult fiction books that represent young adults’ modern lives and coming-of-age themes. She added, “I will be using this new fiction to encourage and inspire eighth graders to create their own original digital stories — stories that represent who they are and how they’ve become the young person they are today.”
“These grants are my humble acknowledgement of some of the terrific work taking place in libraries,” Patterson said.
 
Walden Named Assistant Principal of the Year
Freedom High School Assistant Principal Gayle Walden is Burke County Public Schools’ assistant principal of the year. Walden, originally from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, moved to Morganton as a child and attended Burke County Public Schools from the second to the ninth grade. She graduated high school in South Carolina and received a bachelor’s in administrative management from Clemson University. Walden 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 started her teaching career with Burke County Public Schools in 1988 and has taught second through fifth grades at Oak Hill Elementary School and Walter Johnson Middle School. She also is a past gifted education facilitator. She was the assistant principal at Salem Elementary School for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years and started as an assistant principal at Freedom in August.
Walden said she is humbled to be named assistant principal of the year. She said, “I know many who are much more deserving of the honor.”
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.
Learning Government Up Close: 
Valdese Offering Citizens Academy
The Valdese Citizens Academy is a program designed to educate Valdese Citizens on the ins and outs of local government. The program will be held on Thursdays from 6-8pm beginning on Thursday, March 24, at Valdese Town Hall. Sessions will be held for seven consecutive Thursdays and will include tours of the fire station, police station and water plants. Participants who attend at least six sessions will receive a graduation certificate. For an application and itinerary, visit townofvaldese.com and click on the “Community” link.

32nd Annual Golf Classic

SAVE THE DATE
 
Monday, May 2, 2016
Mimosa Hills 

 

                     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 http://awards.sba.gov  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 april.gonzalez@sba.gov.


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 Ashley.brown@Carolinashealthcare.org.
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.
KaBOOM!

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 http://www.burke.k12.nc.us/departments/birth-to-5.
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 visit:www.LegendWithinUSA.com.
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 jcrumpler@wpcc.edu.
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 dlonon@wpcc.edu.
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 gbuchanan@wpcc.edu. 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.”