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With Lenoir-Rhyne University planning to offer more graduate programs in health sciences, two medical institutions and a few other entities in Catawba County have thrown their support behind the initiative, pledging a substantial amount of financial assistance.

See the exhibit “In Time We Shall Know Ourselves: Raymond Smith Photography,” 52 black-and-white photographs at the Hickory Museum of Art.

The new Optimist Club Park that took root in a seedy, 6-acre field across at the corner of Third Avenue and Vance Street is bringing a new sense of community to the neighborhood .

Belmont Abbey will host a new event this season with a special connection – the McGuire Classic, which is named for broadcaster and former Belmont Abbey coach Al McGuire – will be held Dec. 22-23 at the college’s Wheeler Center.

Animal Crackers: Full Circle Arts is accepting submissions for its upcoming “Animal Crackers” exhibition, which explores the relationship between animals and humans. Images may be of domestic or wild animals. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Catawba County

New leadership: Jeff Sandford was recently named president and chief executive officer of the Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Students welcomed: Belmont Abbey College hosted Gaston County Schools Day on Dec.17.

K9 unit: Burke County Public Schools recently welcomed a new member of the school resource officer team – a 2-year-old, black Labrador retriever named Drift.

Students create ornaments: Ornaments made by students at Webb Street School are adorning the Christmas trees of Habitat for Humanity volunteers and homeowners as well as the tree at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

John Hunter Nemechek didn’t let a lack of sleep keep him from pulling off a bold move in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby to secure a victory and cap off the 2014 season.

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