The City of Newton has added and filled a commercial development coordinator position to support its downtown merchants association and develop other business opportunities. Among other duties, Charles Powell Jr., a Newton native, will help finish a downtown master plan and seek grants for development projects. Hannah Mitchell
The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated the 10th Congressional District's 10 counties a disaster area because of farming losses from drought. That makes farmers eligible for low-interest loans from the Farm Service Agency, according to U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry's office.
For details, call FSA: Burke and Caldwell counties – 828-439-9727, ext. 2; Catawba County – 828-464-1382, ext. 2; Cleveland County – 704-471-0235, ext. 2; Gaston and Lincoln counties – 704-922-3806. Hannah Mitchell
Gaston County basketball legend James Worthy will be the keynote speaker at the Montcross Area Chamber's 49th annual meeting and banquet Jan. 29 at the Cramer Mountain Country Club.
A basketball standout at Gastonia's Grier Junior High and Ashbrook High, where he graduated in 1979, Worthy became an All-American for the North Carolina Tar Heels and a star for the Los Angeles Lakers.
He recently re-established his connections with Gaston County. He owns a house in Gastonia and 67 acres near Cherryville.
Tickets will be available in early January. Information: 704-825-5307 or visit www.montcrossareachamber.com. Joe DePriest
Gaston County's pertussis cases continue to rise at an unusual rate, according to the Gaston County Health Department.
Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is a bacterial illness that causes a severe cough and is highly contagious. People of any age can contract it. The cases the Health Department has seen since August have been largely concentrated on elementary school-age children. Questions: Call the department, 704-853-5005. Joe DePriest
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To let us know of news, events, story ideas or to comment on this section, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org in the Catawba Valley or email@example.com in Gaston and Lincoln counties. Reach editor Dan Duffey at firstname.lastname@example.org, 704-868-7734.