Archive for June, 2022

6-20-2022 – Rural Infrastructure Authority Grant Helps Bring New Industry to Hudson

Posted on: June 28th, 2022 by admin No Comments


June 28, 2022



Last week, the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved the Town of Hudson’s request for a $120,000 grant to assist Harmony Timberworks with the reuse and renovation of the 53,560-square-foot former Davis Wood Product building.


Harmony Timberworks came to Caldwell County looking for a rail-sided building to reduce the cost associated with the transportation of raw materials from the west coast. The 40-year-old company headquartered in Boone found the vacant Davis Wood Product building met their needs, and they are working closely with the Caldwell Economic Development Commission and the Town of Hudson to make the new site operational.


“This is a great thing for Caldwell County,” said Caldwell County Board of Commission Chairman Randy Church. “We appreciate the work of our Economic Development Commission to bring industry to Caldwell County.”


“It is great to welcome one more new company to Caldwell County that will add to our manufacturing diversity while still capitalizing on a legacy industry, timber,” said Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray.


In addition to obtaining one of 16 RIA grants announced by Governor Roy Cooper, Harmony Timberworks received approval for local job incentives in March. The company, a manufacturer of complex timber frame projects, anticipates creating 15 new jobs.


Grants through RIA can support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements. Funding comes from a variety of specialized grant and loan programs offered and managed by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division.


“With the help of these grants, we are able to attract new jobs to rural communities across the state,” Governor Cooper said. “These investments generate more economic opportunity, renovated buildings, enhanced access to healthcare and fortified water and sewer service, all of which improve the lives and livelihoods of rural residents.”

6-15-2022 – Commissioners approve county budget

Posted on: June 15th, 2022 by admin No Comments


June 15, 2022




June 14, 2022


LENOIR — During the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, June 13, County Manager Donald Duncan presented the county’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23. This budget will begin Friday, July 1.


“The commissioners have created a stable revenue to maintain long-term reserves and most importantly, reduce the need for future commissioners to borrow money to pay interest,” Duncan said. “We enter 2022-2023 fiscal year optimistically.”


In regards to economic development, activity during the pandemic actually increased substantially as the global supply chain became disrupted and more companies looked to domestic sourcing. Manufacturing communities like those in Catawba Valley have flourished, as more people relocated to suburban and ex-urban areas. The need for home furnishings and materials grew exponentially. Business tourism floundered during the pandemic, and domestic and global travel was suspended, but now have rebounded to greater than pre-pandemic levels. Occupancy taxes in Caldwell County have more than doubled since 2017.


“These funds are reinvested in the Chamber [of Commerce] and the EDC to assist in the growing economy,” said Duncan.


The Economic Development Commission has successfully repurposed many empty buildings for new businesses since 2012, reclaiming over 6 million square feet of industrial space.


Moreover, there has been record growth in building and environmental permits.


“Despite the pandemic, development in Caldwell County has continued at a robust pace,” Duncan said. “All sectors have experienced expansion in industrial development.”


The county’s tax rate will remain at 63 cents per $100 valuation.


The revenues from the General Fund were estimated conservatively at $46 million, assuming a 97% collection rate. The total assessed levy is nearly $7.6 billion, which is up $70 million in growth from last year.


In 2020-2021, staff returned $1.8 million to the fund balance after borrowing about $6 million. In 2021-2022, staff estimate to return around $5 million.


The proposed budget for 2022-2023 includes a $4.8 million unreserved general fund balance appropriation. New revenue this year included a conservative 5% increase in sales tax and a projected 5% increase in sales tax. Moreover, new revenue will be generated from the landfill gasification system at Foothills Regional Landfill.


This budget continues with the salary study implemented in January 2022 for the full fiscal year.


“Caldwell County commissioners have ensured staff has the resources needed to fulfill our obligations to citizens,” said Duncan.


This budget also begins the Merit Pay system. Upon employees’ anniversary date and annual review, employees will be eligible for a Merit I increase of $1,000, and exceptional employees can earn Merit II for $1,000 added to their base pay.


“The focus of Merit Pay is to continue to improve the lives of our front-line employees,” Duncan said.


The budget provides the sheriff’s office with $345,000 for new body cameras. These body-worn cameras will coordinate with their in-car cameras that have license plate reader technology built in. These are valuable in protecting officers’ lives, fair and equitable treatment of our citizens, and the return of stolen property or helping find a missing person.”


“These cameras essentially pay for themselves and reduce law enforcement liability in the use of force claims,” Duncan said.


Register of Deeds Wayne Rash has proposed adding the U.S. passport program to his office and charging a nominal fee to provide for this service without the dynamic employment market.


The utility fund requires additional contracting services and staff in order to keep up with demand. Staff has requested two additional employees to implement a valve exercising program, hydrant testing, and back-flow prevention.


“Ongoing maintenance and inspections keep our systems from failing or falling into a state of disrepair, keeping basic life-giving services and clean water affordable,” said Duncan. “I recommend improving operations and maintenance inside the utility fund. The system is well-managed, and now we must turn to an eye to the future.”


Duncan said the county’s main focus should be on water storage pressure tank maintenance and repair replacement of substandard lines. The list of capital improvements is substantial and expensive but much needed.


“Another thing that I recommend in this pro-utility fund program is to have a comprehensive rate study done so the county can plan for future growth of its system,” Duncan said.


The total budget amounts to roughly $119 million. The general fund is $93 million, the education fund to the community college and the public school system is $18.8 million, and the utility fund is $7.7 million.


“In conclusion, this year’s budget is based upon your direction, the county’s long-range plans, and input received from our citizens throughout the year,” Duncan said. “The budget features added attentions that will make us competitive in this economic environment, addresses regulatory changes, and will make us competitive throughout all of our levels of service. Caldwell’s budget focuses on essential human services and is our best effort to predict future needs. It builds on past decisions and looks optimistically to the future.”


While the county’s tax rate stays put, some Caldwell residents will see a higher fire tax. Requested increases included Granite Falls Fire (14.65), Kings Creek (8.35), and Patterson Fire Rescue (12.95). These increases were requested mainly for additional personnel as volunteerism has dropped statewide.


The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the county’s budget for fiscal year 2022-23 as presented.


In other news, Deborah Murray, executive director for the Economic Development Commission, presented a proposal for a Local Jobs Incentive for FleetGenius, an environmental solutions company, which recently acquired the industrial containers manufacturing business Bakers Waste in Lenoir.


The Local Jobs Incentive requests a dramatic expansion to the company by adding 120 news jobs at $2,000 per job to be created over the next year. The company’s jobs pay on average equal or more to county’s average, which is roughly $43,000.


Andreas Gruson, owner of FleetGenius, was in attendance and spoke to the commissioners about his excitement for the Lenoir facility and workforce.


“It’s been a tremendous six months that we’ve owned it,” said Gruson, “and we’ve seen a lot of positivity and excitement. We grew FleetGenius from about 100 employees three years ago to today, we’ve got 600 employees. Our intent is to to the same thing in Lenoir … Our goal is to expand the coverage of this plant, and bring Lenoir’s finest to the rest of the country.”


The board approved the Local Jobs Incentive unanimously.


Moreover, the commissioners approved Josh Angle’s appointment as the Caldwell County Tax Administrator.


6-9-2022 – Craftmaster Furniture Is Awarded Supplier of The Year by Decorating Den Interiors Group

Posted on: June 9th, 2022 by admin No Comments


June 9, 2022



Craftmaster Furniture was recently named “Supplier of the Year” for the Decorating Den Interiors Design Group based out of Easton Md. This award was presented at the annual conference held in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on May 24th. The event is a 4 day design seminar and is attended by over 250 Design members from around the country. Craftmaster also received an award for the 3rd largest supplier out of 160 and the largest furniture supplier.


“It is such an honor for Craftmaster Furniture to be selected as the Supplier of the Year by the Decorating Den members.  We have worked hard to provide the quality and service level that the Designers deserve and expect from a key supplier.


We are very excited about the growth opportunity Craftmaster has with the Design members going forward.  We thank all of the Decorating Den members for voting for Craftmaster and we will always do our best to continue to provide the level of service they expect from us.” said Barbara Calcagne Director of Interior Design Sales for Craftmaster.


“It has been our goal since establishing our To the Trade program 5 years ago that we provide a high-quality upholstered product that is stylish and customizable, yet affordable to the Design Community”.


“We are very proud to receive this award for the 3rd time in 5 years and I wish to thank Barbara, Lacy Reich and Corrie Craig for their hard work and dedication in creating our To the Trade Design division for the company.  We have had tremendous growth in the Design space under their leadership”.



About Craftmaster Furniture
Craftmaster Furniture was founded in 1972 in Taylorsville, N.C. and specializes in moderately priced upholstery produced in the U.S.A. by 650 highly skilled Associates. Craftmaster offers a broad selection of upholstered products and provides custom order, with over 150 living room styles, 100 accents chairs and over 800 fabrics to choose from. For more information, visit

About Decorating Den Interiors

Decorating Den Interiors was founded in 1969 and has interior design professionals and decorators throughout the U.S. and Canada. Its design professionals offer full-service interior design that includes fine furniture, case goods, accessories, lighting, floor and wall coverings, draperies, and other hard and soft window treatments from its custom LIVV Home Collection™ of furnishings. Its design professionals bring samples directly to the client’s home or office, provide complimentary design services and personally oversee projects through installation. 

6-6-2022- County leaders get a look at planned road improvements

Posted on: June 6th, 2022 by admin No Comments


June 6, 2022




Jun 3, 2022


LENOIR — On Thursday, June 2, the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners met to discuss various transportation project updates in the county.


“There’s multiple good things happening with Caldwell County transportation,” said County Manager Donald Duncan. “It’s odd because counties don’t usually do transportation … that falls upon the state and municipal governments, but it does impact us, nonetheless.”


Brian Horton with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) presented a PowerPoint slideshow to the commissioners.


“Traffic is back up again,” Horton said. “In spring, April and May of 2020, people stopped driving or there weren’t as many people driving. But traffic is where it was and growing on top of that … Connelly Springs Road is actually the highest road that’s not a U.S./N.C. route in traffic volume.”


In terms of funding for these construction projects, more projects are being funded and completed instead of having their completion dates pushed back.


“Caldwell County is in relatively good shape compared to the rest of our region in that regard,” Horton said.


The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is a staged, multi-year, statewide program of transportation projects, consistent with the statewide transportation plan and planning processes, as well as metropolitan areas, transportation improvement programs (TIP), and planning processes. The STIP must be developed in cooperation with the metropolitan planning organizations, public transit providers, and any Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPO) in the state.


“First time ever that the new budget coming out, the 2024-2033 STIP, has fewer projects than the prior 10-year budget,” said Horton. “That’s unprecedented. To try to mitigate that, they’ve allowed what they call ‘swaps.’ If you want to maybe change some projects out and put some projects in, you can do that.”


However, there are not many swap opportunities in Caldwell because the county is already on track for these projects.


One major project proposed is a roundabout at the intersection of Dudley Shoals and Grace Chapel roads.


Another proposal will set an offset intersection and a new traffic signal at Calico Road, with construction starting in 2023.


Also in 2023, construction is scheduled to begin at the U.S. 321/Mount Herman Road intersection, U.S. 321/Pinewood Mountain Rd intersection, and the U.S. 321/Mission Road intersection.


At 321A in Granite Falls, a roundabout was proposed at South Caldwell because of the school traffic in that area.


Additionally, there’s a big project in Granite Falls on 321A downtown out to Pine Mountain to add turn lanes in key places.


“With the railroad there, all those improvements are shifting the roads to the west,” said Horton. “This creates an opportunity downtown to create and reorganize the square. We’re going to realign Dudley Shoals Rd to make it come more opposite of the post office and school, maybe enclose the Dudley alley to become a sort of event space and mix the traffic with a pedestrian area.”


On Alex Lee Boulevard, a contact diamond interchange will enable traffic to flow faster at the light near the Granite Falls Wal-mart.


The commissioners considered these proposals but did not vote on these changes.


“The county does not maintain roads,” said Public Information Officer Paige Counts. “But county leadership can voice their concerns and thoughts to the state and advocate for certain projects.”

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