Well, Belmont sure changes, and stays the same, as time goes by. Evidence Friday Night Live, a production of the downtown merchants asssociation. Beach music, beach music, and more beach music.
Doesn’t everyone get enough of beach music by going to the same place every summer?
Belmontians have never been too adventurous in their 115 year history.
Why change when it is fun to dance to “Carolina Girls”, over and over and over and over?
Granted, it has been exceptionally hot this summer, but do the people in this video really look like they are having fun?
To us, they look just a bit bored. Did you see us in the video? We were there, sweating and trying to look sociable.
A couple of years ago, there was an attempt to mix up the music a bit when Swamp Da Wamp played at one of the Friday Night Live events. Good ‘ol Southern Rock & Roll, and uh, yeah, Bikers. Guess that made the PO-lice and city elders a bit nervous when hundreds of sweet motorcycles parked in the downtown area.
Well, go with the tried and true we suppose…
Since every town around is now doing the same thing, wouldn’t it be nice to step out and do something different for a change?
It has been a while, with job losses, relocations, a death, and children moving away, our crew has been slightly distracted for a number of months.
We hope to get back into the swing of community commentary.
Your input and feedback is vital. And, once again – we are just a few folks who like our community, like where we live, and love our families. Just like you. We may disagree, we may state that disagreement, but we will neither get emotional or upset about any of it.
Lessee, there is a lot to look at, where do we begin…..
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace.
Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.
At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
There are several public meetings next week at City Hall. The Pedestrian Master Plan Steering Committee will meet at 3:00 pm on Monday, January 12, in the Centennial Room at City Hall to kick-off the master planning process.
The City Council will meet on Monday, January 12, as well. Their meeting begins at 7:00 pm with a work session prior to the meeting that begins at 6:30 pm. Both the meeting and work session are open to the public and are at City Hall. The agenda for the City Council meeting is available here.
The Planning and Zoning Board will hold a joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Citizens’ Advisory Board at 7:00 pm on Thursday, January 15, at City Hall. The two boards will hear a presentation on the final draft of the portion of the Carolina Thread Trail that runs through Gaston County. The agenda for this joint meeting is available here. You can learn more about the Carolina Thread Trail by clicking here.
After the joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Board, the Planning and Zoning Board will hold its regular meeting. The agenda for the regular meeting is available here.
All of these meetings are open to the public. Please contact the Planning Department at 704-901-2610 if you have any questions about these meetings.
Adrian Miller, a planner with the City of Belmont, forwarded names to city council for a newly formed “Tree Board”. Three community members, Carolyn Sly, Chad Hutcheson, and Renee Shook, were appointed by council to serve as a committee to oversee city planning ordinances regarding plantings and the overall look of Belmont.
We applaude the appointment of these community-minded folks to the board. As mayor Richard Boyce noted, “…We have these rules in place, but no effective way of monitoring or enforcing the regulations…”. He continued, “…this board will be a good step in the right direction…”.
It is hoped that the City will gain opportunities for grant funding and achieve a Tree City USA designation over time. This board is one of the first steps to achieve this goal.
Thumbs up for a proactive council and visionary planning!
The Belmont City Council last night approved the request from the Downtown Merchants Association to expand the “beer garden” for Friday Night Live. The new area extends from the Caravan parking lot and Airline Avenue to include all of the street and sidewalk in front of Stowe Park.
As a result, the merchants association also approved a new cup size that will be available on July 11:
Friday Night Live organizer and Belmont Man About Town(BMAT), Vince Hill, explained to council that the real purpose of Friday Night Live is to provide five $500 scholarships for South Point HS students. After all the expenses of each event, the group clears about $200. The merchants association also sells t-shirts and accepts donations as a 501(c)3 organization.
Council members engaged Mr. Hill with ideas to help make more money. Former police chief Flowers suggested using a gambling scheme commonly known as a 50/50 to help. Mr. Hill countered with a request to have the city police donate their time to reduce the $375/event cost. Ron Foulk suggested that Mr. Hill and Chief David James, “get together and work out a plan”. After it was all said and done, the beer garden gets expanded to Mill Street and the sidewalk fronting Stowe Park. The merchants also decided later to increase the cup size – as noted in the photo above.
While this is all well and good – certainly should increase the crowd size and lower the age demographic for attendance – the police will have much more to patrol. We hope the discussion in the “work things out” plan notices that once on the sidewalk, the city ordinance against alcohol in the park will be severely tested. Even though no police-related incidents have occurred through eight previous Friday Night Live events, the group is inviting something to happen.
Funny how an event planned outside of government supervision now needs/wants taxpayer money to make money – for scholarships no less. City Council is quite proud that they could help – already covering the overtime for the public works personnel who provide cleanup after the event, and providing 5 off-duty policeman ($25/hr paid to the officers).
After all the brouhaha of last summer when the project was first proposed – “state road, can’t have alcohol in the street” and “program to increase downtown awareness and traffic outside of government sponsorship”, we now have a fun product offered by merchants who aren’t seeing the (rubbing fingers together motion) the dollar for dollar return.
It’s a great event series. We hope it doesn’t get out of hand and hope that the purposes are clearly defined. Charlie Flowers even has a line item for the newly created Belmont Tourism Authority, $3000 allocation to the downtown merchants – talk about tax and spend.