South Charlotte


2016 “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest winner, Isabella McGinnis, Chapel Grove Elementary, gets a hug from Brigida Mack, WBTV News, event emcee.
2016 “Proudest Kid in Gaston County” Essay Contest winner, Isabella McGinnis, Chapel Grove Elementary, gets a hug from Brigida Mack, WBTV News, event emcee. Gaston Together

Country singer Jimmy Wayne visits local schools

Jimmy Wayne, a country music singer, songwriter and musician who graduated from Bessemer City High School, recently visited students at several Gaston County schools.

Wayne performed and shared his unique story of growing up both homeless and in the foster care system with parents who were incarcerated at various times. In 2010, Wayne completed a 1,700-mile walk across the United States to raise awareness of homeless youth and the need to increase the age of foster care limits from 18 to 21 years old. He also co-wrote a New York Times best-seller about his life experiences called “Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way.”

Wayne performed his very first concert in the Bessemer City Middle School auditorium more than 25 years ago. This spring, he stepped onto the middle school stage again to perform with fellow students.

Wayne made appearances and shared his music and story at six schools as a way to say thank you to teachers who helped him get an education despite the challenges he faced.

School counselor Cindy Ballard and Lee Dedmon, a former principal at Highland Junior High School who is now a member of the Gaston County Board of Education, received personal acknowledgments from Wayne.

“I had friends who were getting in trouble,” he said in a release. “I didn’t want to go down that road and so I found something I really wanted to do, and that helped me stay out of trouble,” Wayne said. “If you have a dream, you have to apply yourself, and this is how you become successful. Stay focused. Identify what you want to be, and go after it.”

Pierce will work at new vet clinic

Dr. Andrew Pierce, formerly of East Lincoln Animal Hospital in Denver, will be the attending veterinarian at the new Denver Animal Emergency clinic opening in mid-May.

The new clinic at 1420 N. NC 16 is located just north of Unity Church Road and across from Denver Defense. With 4,000-square feet, the clinic will feature a laborator with state-of-the-art blood and urine machines, digital X-ray and real-time ultrasound capabilities. Denver Animal Emergency will be the only emergency animal hospital in Lincoln County.

In addition to emergency care, the clinic will offer overnight supervised hospitalization with a veterinary technician.

Pierce was raised on a beef cattle farm in Harrisburg. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNC Charlotte while working as a veterinary assistant at East Lincoln Animal Hospital and graduated from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. Pierce has a particular interest in emergency medicine, oncology, internal medicine and cardiology.

He lives in Denver with his wife, Shannon, their three young children, two dogs and a cat.

For more information, visit or call 980-222-7115.

Niswonger named finance director

Julie Niswonger was recently named finance director for the Town of Cornelius.

A town employee since 2002, she most recently worked as Accounting Operations Manager. Niswonger has assisted in preparing the town’s budgets, financial analyses, tax collections and auditing processes.

She began the new position on April 11.

Local students win video contest

Community School of Davidson juniors Caroline Knight of Huntersville and Meghan O’Brien of Cornelius were among the top 10 winners of the 2016 New York Times Learning Network Vocabulary Video contest.

More than 800 contestants worldwide entered the video competition. Caroline illustrated the word “equinox” and Meghan illustrated “guffaw.”

Eliza Robinson of Davidson, also a student CSD, was honored in a separate category created specifically for her entry.

Community School of Davidson is a North Carolina public charter school serving students K-12.

Attorneys, firm recognize

Attorneys Sandy Carnegie and Jim Fuller of The McIntosh Law Firm in Davidson were recently named to this year’s Best Lawyers in America list in the field of personal injury and general litigation.

The McIntosh Law Firm also was named to the 2016 U.S. News And World Report Best Law Firms List for Metropolitan Tier 3 Rankings in Charlotte, in the field of personal injury litigation.

For information, visit or call 704-892-1699.

Karp named to Top of the Table status

Jeffrey Karp of Karp Financial Strategies in Mooresville recently qualified for the exclusive Top of the Table of the Million Dollar Round Table – The Premier Association of Financial Professionals.

Karp is a 17-year Million Dollar Round Table member with five Top of the Table and 11 Court of the Table honors. Top of the Table status is the highest level of MDRT membership. Selection is based on exceptional professional knowledge, client service and ethical conduct.

MDRT is an independent association of more than 43,000 life insurance and financial services professionals.

For information, contact Karp at 704-658-1929 or visit

Gaston Together announces award winners

Gaston Together recently held the 2016 Community Leadership Awards emceed by Brigida Mack of WBTV. Dinner entertainment for more than 200 guests was provided by the Carolina Panthers’ Sir Purr.

The Gaston County Education Foundation won the evening’s top honor, the 2016 Circle of Caring Award. Since its inception in 1992, the Foundation has funded more than $900,000 in grants to Gaston County Schools educators. Board Chair John Bowyer accepted the award, a sculpture designed by the late Gaston County artist and physician Dr. Graham Weathers, from Community Leadership Awards Committee Chairman Curtis Rosselle.

Christ Community Outreach Food Ministry also received a Circle of Excellence Award to honor its emergency food pantry that works in partnership with Feeding America/Second Harvest Food Bank. With a very small budget, the ministry serves more than 500 families per month. Director Mary Webber accepted the award.

Isabella McGinnis of Chapel Grove Elementary was named the Proudest Kid in Gaston County as winner of the Foundation’s annual essay contest. Browen St. Romain of New Hope Elementary was the runner-up. Honorable mention awards went to Jacob Grier of Lingerfeldt Elementary; Britain Williams of Sherwood Elementary and Nayla Garvin of Woodhill Elementary. The county-wide competition for third graders also awarded medals to individual school winners.

Administrator retires

Mark Hollar, Assistant Superintendent for Gaston County Schools, recently retired after 35 years of faithful service to the school district. His recent retirement celebration included many memories, stories and laughs, along with two special presentations.

Hollar received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest recognition a North Carolinian can receive from the Governor for outstanding professional and community service. The Gaston County Police Department also named Hollar an honorary Gaston County police officer for his unwavering commitment to school safety.

Hollar rose through the ranks, beginning in 1981 as an interim teacher and concluding his career as a respected educational leader. He served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and central office administrator.

Gaston County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Booker recognized Hollar for his attention to detail, willingness to go beyond expectations to find a solution and ability to offer important guidance when faced with a challenge.

Hospital recognized for Wound Center

Davis Regional Medical Center’s Wound Healing Center in Statesville recently received the Center of Distinction Award from Healogics, a provider of advanced wound care services.

The Center acheived outstanding clinical outcomes for 12 consecutive months, including patient satisfaction rates higher than 92 percent.

Chad French is the Davis Regional CEO, and Dr. Alan Keys is the medical director at Davis Regional Wound Healing Center.

Compiled by Leigh Pressley