Archive for August, 2018

8/28/2018 – Grow with Google event scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20 at J.E. Broyhill Civic Center

Posted on: August 28th, 2018 by admin


August 28, 2018


Google is sponsoring a Grow with Google event on Thursday, September 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. Click on the link below for more information.


Grow with Google

8/28/2018 – Caldwell is Hiring scheduled for Thursday, October 25 at J.E. Broyhill Civic Center

Posted on: August 28th, 2018 by admin


August 28, 2018


The 17th Caldwell is Hiring event has been scheduled for Thursday, October 25 from 8:30 a.m. until Noon at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.


EMPLOYER registration will begin on Monday, September 24. On that date, employers can request a registration form by emailing Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray at or by calling the EDC office at (828) 728-0768.


We look forward to seeing you on October 25!


8/26/2018 – Caldwell teachers learn about local companies and their hiring requirements

Posted on: August 27th, 2018 by admin


August 26, 2018


By Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


In the chaos of a furniture factory, with the regular beating of upholstery tacks being pounded into chair backs and the quick spurts of dozens of staple guns filling the room, Beth Fox, a teacher at William Lenoir Middle School, stood surrounded by about 30 her fellow educators. Before her stood Rick Coffey, president of McCreary Modern, a furniture manufacturer, explaining how manufacturing in the plant works, the roles each employee plays and how exactly he picks those employees.


“I tell everyone they need to know two things,” Coffey said, the teachers eagerly listening as he yelled over the buzz of the upholstery floor.


Then he pulled a ruler from his pocket and said the first is how to use a ruler. With that, Fox let out an excited yell of “Yes!”


Now, when her students ask why they need to know how to use a ruler or other math skills, Fox can point to Coffey’s advice — that they can’t get a high-paying manufacturing job without those skills.


About 75 career and technical education teachers, who teach students trade and career skills, toured eight companies as part of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission’s Hired Education program, which is aimed at showing the variety of good, well-paid jobs that are available here — and what getting those jobs requires — so the teachers can talk knowledgeably to their students about the subject.


Some of the main things employers told this group they want in a potential employee were some basic math, science and technology comprehension and being willing to work and learns.


Hired Education usually involves just 30 teachers. This trip, however, was extra special, because it was the second Hired Education trip of the year and was double the size of the usual group, Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray said.

“We’ve always felt like … we need to do it more. I said I’d take as many teachers as I could and do a full day of touring — and here we are,” she said.


Dawn Smith, a business teacher at Granite Falls Middle School, said the tour is exactly what she and other CTE teachers needed. As the tour bus neared each stop, starting with Chase/NEPTCO, her eyes lit up with excitement.


“If we can say to our students who are thinking about their futures, ‘I’ve been to NEPTCO,’ or some other business, ‘and these are the jobs there, and these are the skills you need to get those jobs,’ that’s huge,” Smith said.


Inside Chase/NEPTCO, plant manager Tom Herman led the teachers through a maze of machinery to see all that goes into making the tape manufactured by the company. As he did, he talked about each employee’s role and what he looks for in a potential hire. The positions range from maintenance of the machines that put adhesive on the tape to testing that tape in a lab with chemicals and advanced laboratory technology, such as a gas chromatograph.


Herman said the company has trouble filling these positions — only 30 percent of new hires stay longer than three months — because many are unwilling to put in the effort needed or don’t have good comprehension of math. He hopes by telling teachers the problems he’s seeing, they’ll be able to better prepare their students to go to work, and tell them that there are high-paying jobs available.


“We want to partner with teachers, and we want to help them,” he said.


Hearing that desire from companies to support teachers and work with them to help students was important, Smith said.


The group of teachers Smith was in, all of whom taught middle school or traditional trades such as masonry or welding, heard the same sentiments at McCreary Modern, Sealed Air Corp., which makes plastic packaging items including Bubble Wrap, and Caseworx, which builds cabinets.


“The problems we see in schools, an unwillingness to work and not wanting to learn basic skills, is the same thing they’re seeing in their companies,” Smith said. “Neither of us have quite cracked the code, but if we work together it will help.”


At Sealed Air, teachers donned bright orange vests, safety glasses and green earplugs to tour the plant where much of Amazon’s shipping packaging is made. On the tour, a printing teacher recognized machinery used to print the Amazon logo on yellow envelopes, Smith said.


“He never would have known that without that tour. Now, he can tell his students about a place that has printing jobs where he never would have realized before,” she said.


A second group of teachers, who teach high school business, health sciences and family and consumer sciences, saw some of Caldwell County’s more advanced industry, visiting Exela Pharma Sciences, which manufactures pharmaceuticals and medical equipment; Stallergenes Greer, also a pharmaceuticals manufacturer; Caldwell UNC Health Care; and Bernhardt Furniture’s design department.


Wayne Mitchell, a teacher at Gateway School, was in the second group, said the trip gave him an opportunity to see exactly what’s out there for his students, and how they can get there with just a little bit of training beyond their high school diploma.


“By visiting local businesses, that makes us more aware of what’s locally available,” Mitchell said. “That gives me the information to push them that direction if that’s what they want to do.”


Mitchell said not all students are meant for a four-year degree, which is where he, as a CTE teacher, can step in to help students who want to go right to work. Hired Education gave him specific information he needs to know about the skills employers are looking for, he said.


“This was, without a doubt, the most beneficial tour like this I’ve ever been on,” Mitchell said. “This was really good.”



8/22/2018 – CTE instructors take part in fall Hired Education program

Posted on: August 22nd, 2018 by admin


August 22, 2018


CTE instructors from Caldwell County Schools participated in the first-ever fall Hired Education program, sponsored by the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Instructors were given the opportunity to take tours of local industries – including Bernhardt Furniture, Exela Pharma Sciences, Caldwell UNC Health Care, Stallergenes Greer, Chase Corporation, Sealed Air, McCreary Modern, and Caseworx.


Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps participated in the tours and was joined by Caldwell County Board of Education members Darrell Pennell, Teresa Branch, Dottie Darsie, Duane Knight, and Joe Sims for a box lunch at the Blue Ridge Energy District Office.


8/19/2018 – Ground broken for surgery center in Granite Falls

Posted on: August 19th, 2018 by admin


August 19, 2018







Photo by Guy Lucas, (Lenoir) News-Topic
By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Next summer Caldwell County will become the first in the region to have a medical center where patients walk in for surgery and leave the same day.


Dr. Jason Norcross, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in joints, said the ambulatory surgery center at RiverCrest Medical Park in Granite Falls will be one of just a few that is focused exclusively on orthopedic surgery, which includes joint, spinal, foot, ankle and sports-related surgery. The next-closest center in North Carolina is in Charlotte.


“It’s a paradigm shift in how health care is delivered,” Norcross said in an interview after a ceremonial groundbreaking at RiverCrest, near the Wal-Mart in Granite Falls.


Advances in surgery make it possible in many kinds of surgeries to walk out – where the term “ambulatory” derives – the same day they have surgery instead of having to stay in a hospital for several days, he said.


“We deliver the same level of surgical expertise in a kind of accelerated fashion … and actually improve the outcome,” he said.


Without the hospital stay, surgeries also become much less expensive for the patients, he said.


The ambulatory surgery center will be a joint venture between Caldwell UNC Health Care and a group of eight surgeons, said Laura Easton, president of Caldwell UNC.


“I have always thought of our work as sacred work because it touches the lives of so many people,” Easton said at the ceremony, and the surgery center will extend Caldwell UNC’s work to many more lives.


Construction of the 20,995-square-foot building is expected to cost about $7.1 million, said Thorn Baccich, the vice president of development for Flagship Healthcare Properties, which will own the building. Flagship also built the existing building at RiverCrest.


Norcross, who performs 450 to 500 surgeries a year, said he hopes the surgery center will draw patients from beyond the Hickory region.


“We’re not the pioneers … but this kind of treatment doesn’t exist in our community,” he said. “An all-orthopedic surgery center is a pretty unique thing.”


8/15/2018 – Blue Ridge Energy hosts groundbreaking ceremony for new headquarters

Posted on: August 15th, 2018 by admin


August 15, 2018


Blue Ridge Energy hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new corporate headquarters in Lenoir. The $18 million project off U.S. 321 North and Nuway Circle will be completed in early 2020.

8/9/2018 – Caldwell EDC August 2018 Trends and Updates Newsletter

Posted on: August 9th, 2018 by admin


August 9, 2018


While the summer has brought us more rain than searing heat, Caldwell County continues to soak in upbeat economic development news. In the August edition of our Trends and Updates Newsletter, Blue Ridge Energy announces plans for a new headquarters, while Caldwell UNC Health Care is looking to expand its services in a badly needed area. As always, thanks to all of you for your support!


August 2018 Newsletter

8/8/2018 – Caldwell UNC Health Care planning to add psychiatric unit

Posted on: August 8th, 2018 by admin


August 8, 2018


By Kara Fohner
(Lenoir) News-Topic


A climbing suicide rate and an emergency room coping with a steady stream of patients who need mental health care are among the factors behind Caldwell UNC Health Care’s plans to add a psychiatric unit.


Laura Easton, the hospital’s president and CEO, said that the proposed unit has been under consideration since 2013.


“When we talk about mental illness, we’re talking about a very large range of circumstances. It transcends socioeconomics. It transcends education level. It’s something that almost every family has some experience with,” Easton said.


State legislators allotted $4 million in the budget passed in June for the unit. Easton said the hospital will gut the fifth floor and transform it into a psychiatric unit for adult patients with somewhere from 16 to 27 beds. In addition, the hospital is applying for a N.C. Department of Commerce grant targeted for rural health care operations. The Caldwell EDC is assisting the hospital with its grant application.


“We have to firm up the design of the unit,” Easton said. “We’ve been visiting facilities across the state to get a really good perspective on what the optimal design is and the optimal size is to have a really effective inpatient unit.”


It will employ several psychiatrists, licensed counselors and social workers, behavioral health technicians or nursing assistants, and nurses who specialize in psychiatric nursing.


Patients seeking mental health care in Caldwell County currently have few options, so many end up in the emergency room — an average of four or five a day, Easton said.


“Their stays can range from 24 hours in our emergency room to six weeks. They range in age from 10 years old to 90. They range in diagnoses from depression and suicidal ideation to severe schizophrenia and homicidal tendencies,” she said.


According to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services, the suicide rate in Caldwell has been climbing steadily since 2001. From 2001 to 2005, the rate was 12.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, from 2006 to 2010 it was 15.8, and from 2011 to 2015 it was 19.8, significantly higher than the state average of 12.7.


“It’s a very, very serious issue in our community,” Easton said. “And I think it speaks to the complete lack of support and help we have for persons in distress. It’s a very grave statistic, and I think it’s one that we hope to turn the corner on.”


The inpatient unit may accept referrals from Caldwell C3 Comprehensive Care Center, a mental health crisis center that was recently built next to RHA Health Services Inc. on Morganton Boulevard and has 12 beds for adults who are having either a psychiatric crisis or are detoxifying from alcohol or drugs. Psychiatrists working in the inpatient unit will also see patients for outpatient follow-up clinic visits.


“That will be added service to the community also,” Easton said.


Inpatient psychiatric care is just one piece of the hospital’s larger strategy to improve mental health care in Caldwell County, Easton said.


Depression screening has been implemented at each of the hospital’s primary care clinics in the past year, she said.


“They start to identify people that maybe they wouldn’t have known were depressed but are, and then they’re able to get them help sooner, when they’re not in crisis,” she said.


A primary care doctor at a clinic will also start a pilot program in September in which certain patients who need mental health services will be able to consult with a psychiatrist via a video call. Easton declined to identify the doctor.


“It can easily get quickly overwhelmed. You can see the need is so unmet, so we’re just starting with that one physician and his patients, seeing how that works. … We have very specific measurements of well-being to see if that Skype method works as effectively for that population to help them with the things they’re struggling with,” Easton said.


The plan for the inpatient unit adds to the hospital’s $24 million renovation project. It may take up to six months to finish the plans before construction starts on the unit, which Easton hopes will be open in the fall of 2019.


“There’s a lot of work to be done,” she said. “Inpatient (care) is just one piece of it. It’s an important piece. And anybody who’s had a family member who has been affected by mental illness really understands how critically important the need is.”


8/2/2018 – Caldwell jobless rate rises, but still posts lowest June rate since 2000

Posted on: August 2nd, 2018 by admin


August 2, 2018


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


The start of summer and the end of the teaching year sent local unemployment rates up across the state, but Caldwell and most other counties still have lower rates than they did a year ago.


Like 96 other counties, Caldwell County saw its unemployment rise in June, going to 4.1 percent from 3.5 percent in May.


The only counties that saw their unemployment rate drop were Dare, Hyde and Tyrell counties, which are all at or near the Outer Banks and see tourism-related jobs boom each June.


Most counties saw their rate increase by 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points, including neighboring Catawba County, where the rate increased by 0.5 points to 3.8 percent, and Burke County, where it increased 0.6 points to 3.9 percent.


Local unemployment rates typically rise each June after teachers’ annual contracts end, and then drop each September after teachers start the new school year. This is reflected in year-to-year comparisons, which show that the June 2018 unemployment rate was lower than the June 2017 rate in 95 of the 100 counties, including Caldwell, where it was 0.4 percentage points lower. The June rate was also the best since 2000.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, noted that Caldwell County continues to hold its position, tied for the 34th-lowest unemployment rate in the state, and better than the state average of 4.2 percent.


“I am really pleased with the continued growth of the workforce. It is a sign of confidence and strength of a growing economy. We have maintained our net gains and documented the largest workforce since October 2012,” she said. “Equally positive is that the June 2018 report documents the highest number of Caldwell residents employed for a June report since 2007.”


The overall unemployment rate for the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area was 3.9 percent in June, down 0.4 points from a year earlier and tied with Charlotte and Wilmington for fourth-lowest among the state’s 15 metro areas. Asheville had the lowest rate, 3.4 percent.


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