Gaston & Catawba

Man's ‘Wilson's Creek' is his personal refuge

What do you do if you work two jobs and don't have time to drive somewhere mellow – like Wilson's Creek – for a little R&R?

If you are Richard McDowell of Granite Falls, you build a mini version of the stony creek bed in your backyard.

After living in Caldwell County for 30 years, McDowell recently made time to visit the Wilson's Creek wilderness area, where he was entranced by the sound and sight of water flowing along the rocky creek bed.

Rather than wait another 30 years for a second visit, he decided to build his own “Little Wilson's Creek” at home.

Ever since he graduated from N.C. State University, McDowell has always worked two jobs, so his time for recreation is limited.

One of his current occupations involves a landscape-supply outlet on U.S. 321 North, so he has ready access to landscaping rock. He also drives trucks for Sara Lee.

His wife, Sharon, teaches at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute in the Opportunities Program for mentally challenged adults. McDowell credits her with plant selection and placement, from their beautiful front yard to the new area in back.

McDowell designed the waterfall himself. A pump at the bottom circulates water back to the top. It took him approximately three weeks to complete this phase, working off and on. Plans include a fire pit to be added this fall, plus a gazebo next spring.

Two turtle sculptures placed at the base of the waterfall originally graced the yard in front of their first dwelling, a mobile home.

Now McDowell can take a mini-vacation by sitting below his waterfall with a cup of coffee and cigar most any day. It is the only time he sits still.

Suzuki guitar program

The James C. Harper School of Performing Arts in Lenoir has expanded its offerings to include a Suzuki guitar program. This is the only such program currently in the western part of the state.

The Suzuki method of instruction is a very successful international music education program that uses a proven method of teaching based on encouragement, repetition and parent involvement. Harper School Executive Director Janet Bloom had numerous requests from the community to offer these lessons.

In September, Bobby Steadman began the comprehensive guitar education program for fourth- and fifth-grade students at Kings Creek Elementary School on their campus.

The school has purchased guitars for the children. Donations will help cover funding for instruction and instrument maintenance.

A partnership with the Kings Creek community to fund the guitar program was initiated by volunteers and alumni, including Brenda Kincaid.

“Local leaders saw a need and made it happen,” Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Steve Stone said.

“Our Kings Creek Endowment Fund is going to be key in providing unprecedented access to the arts for students in our community,” Kings Creek Principal Milland Bradley said.

Just this fall, the Harper School Campus was established in the renovated education building at College Avenue Baptist Church. The LHS Foundation was founded in 1985 and established the James C. Harper School of Performing Arts, which opened in January 2006.