Gaston & Catawba

Energy assistance available for low-income elderly, disabled

Low Income Energy Assistance Program: Low-income elderly or disabled persons in Catawba County may apply for help paying their heating bills beginning Dec. 1 at the Salvation Army, 750 Third Ave. Place S.E., Hickory.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program is offered each year, and those who received LIEAP funds in the past must apply each year.

Households including elderly or disabled persons have first priority and may apply Dec. 1-March 31, or until the funds are exhausted. Only households containing an elderly person age 60 or older, or those with a disabled person receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible to apply during this period.

Payments will be sent directly to the primary heating provider. Assistance is based on household income and the number of persons living in the household. To be eligible, households must have total resources of $2,250 or less, including checking and savings accounts, cash, certificates of deposit, etc.

Low-income households that do not include an elderly or disabled person may apply for LIEAP funds Jan. 2-March 31, if funds are still available at that time. To apply, bring identification, Social Security numbers for everyone in the household, verification of income and resources and the most current heating bill to the Salvation Army. Those applying under the early deadline must also bring proof of age, disability and services received from the Division of Aging and Adult Services. For details, call Catawba County Social Services at 828-695-5625.

Photo competition results: The Catawba Valley Camera Club announced the winners of its photographic competition for the Nov. 5 meeting. The competition was for projection images with the assigned topic of “Graffiti.”

Winners in the Accomplished Division were: First place, Tom Devlin with “Rose Colored Glasses;” second place, John Hildebrand with “George;” third place, tie between Doreen Sugierski with “Sneaky Graffiti Painter” and Judy Young with “Skateboard Boy;” honorable mention, Ed Lane with “Zoom Zoom.”

Winners in the Intermediate Division winners were: First place, John Pascone with “John Anger;” second place, Dennis Hacker with “Just Folks;” third place, Denny Hacker with “How We Got the Railroad;” honorable mention, Cindy Martin with “Bang Bang.”

The Catawba Valley Camera Club meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of every month in the North Annex of the Arts Center, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Meetings are open to the public, membership is not required. For details and to view the winning photos from the Nov. 5 meeting, visit

Fines Amnesty Week: Local libraries will accept canned goods in place of payment for overdue fees Dec. 1-12 during Food for Fines Amnesty Weeks. Patrons of Catawba County Library and Hickory Public Library branches may pay their fines with canned goods at the rate of one donated item for each dollar in fines. The food will benefit local food pantries.

Fines will be waived on any overdue materials returned no matter how long ago the materials were due. However, donated food may not be used to pay for lost or damaged items. Customers need not have outstanding fines to donate food. Receptacles will be placed in each location of both library systems.

Acceptable food should be nonperishable and not expired. Welcome items include canned meat, soups, vegetables and fruits, boxed cereals, grits, dried beans, rice and pasta, spaghetti sauce, baby food, Jell-O, jams and small bags of flour and sugar. Also welcome are individual-serve, pop-top cans and other ready-to-eat foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking such as peanut butter, cheese-and-cracker combos and individual fruit cups. For details, contact your local library branch.

Youth Work Permits: Youth Work Permits can now be completed online. These permits are required for any worker who is younger than 18. Youths may be restricted to certain types of jobs. Youth Work Permits, also known as Youth Employment Certificates, are available at the N.C. Labor Department website,

Applicants should have a job offer before completing the form. It is best to complete the form at the employer’s location to make sure the job description and other details about the work environment are completed accurately.

The employer, parent and youth must all sign the certificate, which must be given to the employer on or before the first day of work. If the form is completed online, a signature from Social Services is not required. Forms that are printed out then completed must have a signature from an employee of Catawba County Social Services, 3030 11th Ave. Drive S.E., Hickory (behind Catawba Valley Medical Center). For details, call 1-800-625-2267 Monday-Friday.

Spay/Neuter specials: The Humane Society of Catawba County is offering $25 male cat neuter surgeries and $10 off on all spay and neuter surgeries through the end of 2014. Surgeries are available at the Humane Society of Catawba County’s Foothills Spay/ Neuter Clinic Monday-Friday.

Pets are dropped off at 8 a.m. on their scheduled surgery day and picked up the same evening. To make an appointment, stop by the facility at 3224 20th Ave. S.E., Hickory, or call 828-464-8878 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Services are available to any member of the public and are not limited to residents of Catawba County.

Shoe and Sock Drive: In its fifth year, the annual Shoe and Sock Drive, hosted by Frye Regional Medical Center’s Physical Therapy Department, collected 210 pairs of shoes, 671 pairs of socks and $100 in cash. Department members presented the donations to the Catawba County Department of Social Services on Nov. 7.

Each year in October, the Physical Therapy Department celebrates National Physical Therapy Month by collecting new shoes and socks to benefit Catawba County Department of Social Services. During its existence, the Shoe and Sock Drive has collected more than 900 pairs of shoes and 1,900 pairs of socks for local foster children.

Flu vaccine clinics: Walk-in flu shot clinics will be offered 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 at Catawba County Public Health off Fairgrove Church Road behind Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory. Vaccinations will be available by walk-in only for individuals age 3 and older. Appointments are recommended for infants ages 6-35 months and can be made by calling 828-695-5800.

The seasonal flu shot costs $26 for individuals age 3 and older and $20 for children ages 6-35 months. For people 65 and older, the high-dose flu shot is available for $40 and the pneumonia vaccine is available for $80. Accepted forms of payment include cash, check, debit, credit, Medicare Part B only, and Medicaid. Medicare Advantage and other insurance plans will not be accepted; however, individuals may pay and then file with their insurers for possible reimbursement.

Public Health is also scheduling appointments for flu shots during regular Immunization clinic hours. To make an appointment for a day other than the scheduled walk-in clinics, call 828-695-5800. Details are available at

‘The Last One:’ ALFA will present a performance of “The Last One” to commemorate World AIDS Day 2014 6-8 p.m. Dec. 2 at Conover Station, 409 Fourth St. S.E., Conover. The event is free and open to the public. A free dinner will also be provided.

Attendees are encouraged to wear red in support of HIV/AIDS awareness. The evening will end with a candlelight remembrance ceremony. For details or to RSVP, call Annie Earle at 828-322-1447 ext. 223.

The Larry Keel Experience: The Larry Keel Experience will perform at 8 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Acoustic Stage, 734 First Ave. S.W., Hickory, as part of the Acoustic Stage Concert Series. Door open at 7 p.m. Group members include Larry Keel on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Jenny Keel on standup bass and harmony vocals and Will Lee on banjo and lead vocals.

Tickets are $12 in advance, $16 the day of the show. Acoustic Stage Members receive a 25 percent discount. For details, visit

Honor Cards: The Exodus Homes 2014 William Mangum Honor Cards are available for a donation of $5 or more. Honor Cards can be given to a friend or loved one to acknowledge that a gift has been made in their honor to Exodus Homes. Each card has information about Exodus Homes, and the Honor Card program.

North Carolina watercolor artist William Mangum donates his skills each year to the program. This year’s featured painting is titled “Eternal Hope.” The Honor Card program has raised more than $5 million during the past 26 years for agencies serving homeless people in 13 cities across North Carolina. All the proceeds from sales support recipient programs like Exodus Homes.

Churches and businesses may pick up packets of cards and displays at the Exodus Homes office, 122 Eighth Ave. Drive S.W., Hickory. Money raised and any unsold cards left will be collected the week of Dec. 29. Individuals can buy cards and send them, or request an order form and Exodus Homes will send the cards for them.

“Eternal Hope” Honor Cards and order forms are available at the Exodus Homes office, at and at the following locations:

Christmas program: The Bright Star Children’s Theatre will present the musical comedy “Christmas with Santa” at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library, 375 Third St. N.E., Hickory. The show follows two elves who have misplaced some of Santa’s presents and go through many adventures trying to find them.

After the show kids will be able to write and submit their own letters to Santa. The program is free and open to children of all ages and their families. For details, call the children’s desk at 828-304-0500, ext. 7271.

Backpack program: More than 30 families from Catawba, Caldwell and Lincoln counties who are served by Catawba County Social Services attended an event held on Nov. 18 by the Jockey Being Family National Backpack Program and the Center for Adoption Support and Education. The purpose of the event, held at the Catawba Science Center, was to raise awareness of the need for post-adoption support for adoptive families and children.

Children at the event received personalized backpacks filled with a Jockey Being Family teddy bear and age-appropriate toys, while parents received a tote with important post-adoption information. A total of 75 backpacks were distributed. One family present at the event had 13 adopted children.

Since 2005, Jockey Being Family has provided $4 million to leading national and local nonprofit organizations in support of post-adoption services, and more than 8,500 backpacks to children across the country.

Seniors Morning Out: Holiday activities, including parties, craft classes, shopping trips and musical entertainment, are on the schedule for December for Catawba County’s Seniors Morning Out program. The half-day Seniors Morning Out programs are open to any Catawba County resident age 60 or older.

Each day features an activity and a free hot lunch. There is no charge to attend, but donations are accepted. Seniors Morning Out operates at five locations throughout the county Monday-Thursday except for holidays.

Details about locations and programming are available by contacting individual sites or by calling Senior Nutrition Services at 828-695-5610 and at To sign up for a program, contact the site supervisor at least 24 hours in advance. Bus transportation to and from the sites is available along limited routes.

All Seniors Morning Out locations will be closed Dec. 22-26 in observance of the Christmas holiday. Site locations and contact information is as follows:

West Hickory: Lisa Adams at 828-323-8746

Newton: Robyn Curtis at 828-455-4133

Maiden: Loretta Hefner at 828-320-5966

East Hickory: Rita Pritchard at 828-320-5963

Claremont: Wendy Thomas at 828-320-0434

Tennis tournament winners: The Family Care Center recently held its annual PRO/AM Tennis Tournament at Lake Hickory Country Club. The tournament netted more than $14,000 for the nonprofit organization. The event features local amateur players and professional tennis players and instructors from the Southeast.

In the Amateur Men’s Division 1, the winner was Aaron Swisher, and the finalist was Linney Teague; in Men’s Division 2, the winner was Jerry Froedge, and the finalist was Houston Shue. In Ladies’ Division 1, the winner was Lela Thompson, and the finalist was Kelley Hurley; in Ladies’ Division 2, the winner was Patti Gies, and the finalist was Theresa Huggins; in Ladies’ Division 3, the winner was Allison Holtzman, and the finalist was Ryan Lovern.

The finale of the tournament included doubles matches with the pros playing against pros. The winners were Drew Robinson, director of tennis at Boonsboro Country Club in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Bret Garnett, director of tennis at Lake Hickory Country Club. Proceeds from the tournament support Family Care Center’s work serving homeless families and their children.

Church garden report: By the end of October, volunteers at the garden at Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Conover had grown 409 pounds of tomatoes, 71 pounds of bell peppers, 60 pounds of zucchini, 43 pounds of yellow squash and 33 pounds of cucumbers. They also grow corn, cantaloupes and watermelons.

The produce was donated to The Corner Table soup kitchen to create meals for those in need in the local community. Produce that wasn’t used immediately was frozen for later.

During the gardening season, the crew of volunteers tilled, planted, fertilized, watered, weeded and maintained the plot of land behind the church on County Home Road. Volunteers included: Evan Drum, Rick Greene, Charlie and Dianne Herman, Dennis Moretz, Danny and Audrey Pope and Sharon Wilson. For details about the garden, call Mount Zion Lutheran Church at 828-256-2123 or visit For details about The Corner Table, call 828-464-0355 or visit


Edison Project winner: First prize of $10,000 was awarded to Daniel Adkins in the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Edison Project for his You2CanBrew business idea. You2CanBrew will be a retail facility focusing on the craft beer, home brewing and small-system brewing communities. The retail facility will provide tier-based instructional courses, in-house brewing booths and starter kits of equipment and ingredients.

Second prize and $5,000 went to Mark “Hootie” Bowman for his Collegiate Kids Books business, which creates interactive, children’s books featuring school mascots, school traditions and well-known school landmarks. Third prize and $3,000 went to Bridgette Cooke for her BioRid idea. BioRid is a device that removes microorganisms from the surfaces of radiological equipment.

The winners and other finalists will be coached and mentored throughout next year to help get their new businesses to the marketplace. The Edison Project is sponsored by the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce celebrates and supports entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative, viable businesses in the Hickory Metro area. For details, visit

Hospice ranking: Catawba Regional Hospice ranks No. 4 out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in regard to the death service ratio, according to Hospice Data & Trends, an industry publication released in September, which gauges how well a hospice serves its community. This particular data references 2013 figures, which are the most recent. Of 1,568 deaths in Catawba County in 2013, 1,001 people, or 63.84 percent, received hospice care – one of the state’s highest rankings.

Since 2011, Catawba County has ranked among the state’s top five counties in terms of death service ratio. For details, call 828-466-0466, visit, or like them on Facebook.

New nurse practitioner: Jennifer Ramos recently joined the staff at Catawba Valley Family Medicine in Hickory. Ramos is a licensed family nurse practitioner who worked at several health care facilities in Hickory including Gastroenterology Associates and Evaluation Management Services before joining the Springs Road practice.

Ramos earned a master’s degree in nursing from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky, and an associate’s degree in nursing science at Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Florida, where she graduated as a member of the International Honor Society. To schedule an appointment at Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Northeast at 2386 Springs Road N.E., Hickory, call 828-256-2112

New look: Carolina Container recently helped the Catawba Science Center by helping develop and install full graphics to the exterior of four of the Science Center’s vans to make them more recognizable to the community.

In the past, Carolina Container has partnered with the Catawba Science Center’s youth programs. Program participants listened to Carolina Container employees explain a challenging problem, then Science Center advisers met with the youth to discuss the issue, conducted research and developed solutions. Years later, Carolina Container explained how some of these ideas were implemented.

United Way donation: The Corning Inc. Foundation recently contributed $29,460 to Catawba County United Way on behalf of Corning Optical Communications in Hickory. Established in 1944, Catawba County United Way invests in programs that target community needs. Efforts are focused in the areas of education, income, health, food, shelter, rent and utilities. For details, visit

Commissioner honor: The Catawba County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 17 honored Lynn Lail, who will retire from the board on Dec. 1, after serving three terms. Lail was presented with a crystal vase to recognize her for receiving the Distinguished Public Service Award.

Lail is also being honored with a work of pottery featuring the Catawba County Seal created by Catawba County potter Kim Ellington; by a statue of a mother and three children sitting on a park bench that will be placed at Catawba County Social Services in honor of her service on the Board of Social Services and Board of Commissioners; and by a tree that will be planted in Lail’s honor on the grounds of the expanded Justice Center when that project is completed in about two years.

Lail was also recently presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Gov. Pat McCrory during his visit to the county.

Compiled by Gina Smith