Posts filed under ‘Community’

Text of Obama’s Inauguration Address

barack-obama 

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.

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January 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm 2 comments

Belmont Goal: “Tree City USA”

 

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!

July 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm 2 comments

Friday Night Live Gets Expanded “Beer Garden”

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.

How sad.

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.

July 8, 2008 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

HOT-HOT-HOT

Well, graduation weekend has come and gone in the little berg of Belmont, NC.

Many ‘lil darlin’s are down at the beach – well pretty much strung out from Carolina Beach to Kiawa Island, but they are mostly there.

From student reports: The Friday afternoon picnic at Stowe Park went over well with the approximately 160 students who gathered to hug, complain about the heat, eat hotdogs and hamburgers, and participate in the slip’nslide down the hill in front of the gazebo. Several students promised to submit photos, so we waited until today to write about it… guess the photos have to be found on one of the many facebook pages of SPHS students.

The graduation was done very well this year. While the weather was VERY HOT (93 degrees at the beginning of “Pomp and Circumstance”), the packed home side of Lineberger Stadium seemed to hold up well. Only 3 or 4 reports of heat-related fainting occurred.

This year, the students were seated on the football field facing the vistors side with the podium facing toward the home section (and the seated graduating class). Large coolers of water were spaced at the end of every third row of chairs. As the students processed in, most of them got a cold bottle of water, and after they were announced they got another bottle of water. Seems to have been pretty well orchestrated.

The concession stand was open as well and – yes, you guessed it, water was for sale.

Six student speeches, welcoming from Lindsay Hawkins and Christine Ellington, representing the student council, and salutatorian speeches by Katie Dare Payseur and Phillip Rinehart. Payseur and Rinehart talked about the 4 years at South Point and the things the graduates would remember. Co-valedictorians, Amy Cordell and Andrew Pierce talked about their futures and the limitless possibilities.

Mrs. Little thanked the South Point community for her years of work as principal at the high school. The students and parents gave her a standing ovation for her leadership and guidance over the years.

Several interesting points to this graduating class: over $6.5 million of scholarship money was awarded, more than 160 students graduated “cum laude” or better, with just over 60 with highest honors, “summa cum laude”. This was the largest  SPHS class with 304 graduates – only seven droputs, and 20 transfers out in the 4 year class of 2008.

Congratulations Class of 2008 – always remember your roots, and know that you are welcome home any time!

 

June 9, 2008 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

Discovery Place eyeing Belmont for children’s museum

Even though the concept is old news ’round here, when the Gazette picks it up, it must be important.

We think this is a great reuse of the inactive mills, it helps from a destination place viewpoint, and it keeps the Discovery Place program in the forefront of children’s programming.

Our wholehearted endorsement of this program is just a few small voices applauding the formation and planning process.

With homes in the former Chronicle Mill village converted to private ownership, and the lack of significant parking, what are the plans to move cars, and the many school busses and day care busses through the neighborhood?

This will certainly be a challenge to Mayor Richard Boyce’s vision of “Neighborhood Preservation’ as expressed in the recently passed Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

We would assume the RL Stowe Fiber Lab will be eliminated for the parking needs, but that begs the question about the Belmont Parks and Rec department onetime eye on the land next to the new police station. Members of council had shared an interest several years ago in this land for a Recreation Center when the police station was under construction. Now that the Parks Bond has passed, maybe they have backed off on that idea?

The program of regionalizing the Discovery Place for children in the lower elementary grades is a workable concept. Already in the design phase, a similar regional Discovery Place Kids will be located in Huntersville. As many as five regional prgrams could be established. Kinda wonder what would happen to the Schiele Museum over in Gastonia. The city’s museum is struggling financially and the current city manager has put pressure on all the department heads to lower city-funded operating losses.

Could Discovery Place Kids be the Wal-mart of children’s museum programming?

Good Luck with this project, we hope it works out for the best for everyone.

 

June 2, 2008 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Rough Draft Band Rocks Downtown Belmont

The Rough Draft band from Charlotte rocked downtown Belmont last night during the second installment of the 2008 Friday Night Live! series.

Disco hits of the late 70’s and early 80’s were mixed in with pop tune covers throughout both sets. Of course the obligatory, “Electric Slide” was played for the female (and the few male) dancers. Seems liked every band that comes to Belmont has to play “Electric Slide”. Ok, just kinda confirms for us the level of “sophistication” the bands have when they pander to crowds.

The interesting part of the Friday Night Live! is becoming the intermission between sets. The Downtown Belmont Merchants Association takes the opportunity to thank the sponsors of the event, make announcements, and let the evening’s sponsor do their song and dance.

Last night the sponsor was Neil Brock and Associates (Nationwide Insurance). Neil was able to get Nationwide to bring in their showcar from the newly sponsored under-card of NASCAR (formerly the Busch Series), now called the Nationwide Series. They also had a racing simulator on hand that was free. Neil did a good job, even handing out a lot of “freebies”.

Belmont is certainly getting spoiled by all the largess that is being lavished on the crowds at Friday Night Live! Our little crowd certainly enjoyed ourselves last night. The “expanded” beer garden now extends from the tracks to the Day Spa and occasionally pushes onto the state road commonly known as Main Street (gasp).

The dude from the hardwood flooring store with the annoyingly high pitched voice needs to find someone else to lead the announcements. While his statements are needed – he just is not the person needing to make them. Certainly someone with a better microphone voice can be found to rally the crowd at intermission.

One important point that was stressed at the last event and again last night was that the downtown businesses were the overall sponsors of this entertainment – not the Chamber of Commerce. Although, there was a lot of cooperative work being done between the two groups. That collaboration is key to the success of this event.

We really enjoyed the fact that the evening’s lead sponsor gets to do a bit of promotion. Will a bridal show be on tap in the future? Or, maybe a beer-chugging contest sponsored by one of the downtown “pubs”? just random thoughts to ponder…

 One highlight of the dancing action was a certain Jaquie Allen of Charlotte, who was able to dance (disco-style actually), and hula-hoop at the same time. She provided quite a bit of entertainment for the crowd and did some instructional work with the kids at the same time. We love it Belmont!

The food vendors are constantly improving. The po-po are lightening up a bit, and the city’s street maintenance crews seem to be enjoying themselves so much more. Maybe that overtime agreement helped out a lot…

The downtown merchants hawked the Friday Night Live! t-shirts for $10, and explained that the funds raised would be going to a scholarship program for South Point students. They brought up some of the applicant/volunteers of the scholarship program during the intermission. Pretty neat idea there folks.

Overall, another enjoyable night in the lively downtown area. We think it would be cool if the merchants association could give out some economic impact numbers by week or by season. It helps when you are attempting to draw interest to the community at several levels.

The next Friday Night Live! is June 13 with Jimmy Quick & the Coastline band.

Don’t forget the Parks and Recreation concerts in the park, next Saturday night with the Center City Groove Band.

May 31, 2008 at 11:05 am 5 comments

Seniors – 2008!

South Point Seniors put on their traditional Senior Show this afternoon during 4th period – and was received with much success.

Loud, rowdy, and possibly over the top student performances, parodies of teachers and administrators ruled the last official day of classes before final exams next week.

South Point seniors recognized Mrs. Collins as “educator of the year” and presented her with a plaque. They thank Mrs. Little for “putting up with the largest graduating class for the past four years”, and got down to having fun through the rest of the afternoon.

Matt Crane and Wilson Nguyen co-hosted and introduced the various acts.

Mallory McCarn did an outstanding interpretative dance, Pria Patel performed a traditional Indian dance, and Cameron Matthews/Jonathan Howland/Aaron Pegues performed a Garth Brooks song, “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” inviting the crowd to sing along – which they did enthusiastically.

The students performed a take off on “The Next Top Model”, who knew those boys were so pretty!

Paul Stillwell reprised his Mr. South point performance of “It’s not Easy”, with his superman rendition and video.

The teacher parody of “So You Think You Can Dance”, pitted, “the teachers”, Mrs. Pierson, Mrs. Lawing, Mrs. Mac, Mr. Cavnar, and Mr. Grelis in a dance off competition. Nathan Francis, Erica Jordan, and Aaron Pegues were the judges. The students nailed the mannerisms and words of the real teachers spot on.

The final dance performance of the show was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Both entertaining and engaging with a number of dancers, again getting the choreography just perfect.

Thank you seniors for another entertaining show – we hope this tradition remains alive and well with new adminstrators in the coming years.

Thank you Mr. Grimes and Mrs. Hall for putting up with this “crowd” of seniors – they definitely keep pushing the envelope as they have for the past thirteen years.

We are all looking forward to graduation next weekend! 

May 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

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