Archive for February, 2019

2/28/19 – Restaurant to serve Southern fare

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by admin


February 28, 2019


By: Virginia Annable


A new Southern-style restaurant will replace Bud’s Diner in Lenoir to bring breakfast, lunch and dinner back to the former Shoney’s building on Wilkesboro Boulevard, which has been empty since last June.


Southern Crossroads will open in March, a second restaurant for owner Jeff Austin, who also owns Southern Comforts in Blowing Rock, which has been open for about 5 years. The two restaurants will mirror each other with every Southern food imaginable, Austin said.


“We’ll have it all,” Austin said.


The restaurant will have breakfast and lunch seven days a week and serve dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Austin has been in the restaurant business since he could work, helping out at the family restaurant Mountain House in Boone until it closed in 2014. That’s when he opened Southern Comforts, offering Southern specials such as chicken and dumplings, and country-style steak.


“I think it (Lenoir) needs a good Southern place to eat — there’s not too many places here,” Austin said.


The restaurant will have a family atmosphere, Austin said. After a month of repainting, cleaning and decorating, it’s nearly ready to open, he’s just putting in the finishing touches — like antique furniture and metal rooster statues — and waiting on a new sign.


Austin said he was happy to see a hotel opening down the road, a Hampton Inn and Suites, which is also expected to open in March.


“There’s a lot of traffic in the area,” Austin said, which is one reason he chose the location.


Austin hopes the restaurant is welcoming, charming and warm like a Southern kitchen should be.


“It’s going to be cozy and inviting,” he said.


The restaurant is set to open on March 11. For more information, visit the Southern Crossroads Facebook page.

2/24/19 – Caldwell, Burke housing needs similar

Posted on: February 25th, 2019 by admin


February 24, 2019


By: Virginia Annable


The housing needs found in a recent study in Burke County also are reflective of what’s needed in Caldwell County, an analyst with a regional group said.


The study by Bowen National Research, which was commissioned by the Burke County Board of Realtors, found there is a need for just under 3,000 housing units, ranging from single-family homes to apartments, and also that there is a gap in houses in the mid-price range, around $200,000.


Those are similar to what researchers now studying Caldwell County’s housing needs are likely to find because Burke and Caldwell have a lot in common, said Taylor Dellinger, a data analyst at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.


“They both have a similarity in the age of the housing stock and a high percentage of homes built before 1980,” Dellinger said.


Caldwell’s housing study is being done by the Development Finance Initiative at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. Dellinger said he expects it will show a similar need as in Burke for more market-rate, multi-family and single-family housing to keep the local economy booming.


The number of houses being built has steadily climbed in both Burke and Caldwell over the years — there were 144 single-family building permits in Caldwell last year and 167 in Burke — but the houses that are being built are not in the mid-price gap, Dellinger said. In Caldwell, many are in the Collettsville and Globe areas and are retirement or vacation homes.


“The other areas of the county aren’t looking as good,” Dellinger said.


“If you go anywhere in (Caldwell) county, do you really see a subdivision with multiple houses going up at once? You just don’t,” Dellinger said.


But Burke’s housing study also called for multi-family units at reasonable prices. Both counties are trying to attract a younger population, and more market-rate rental properties and apartments can do that, Burke’s study found. Dellinger said Caldwell is facing the same issue.


“It (home ownership) is not for everybody, you’ve got to have options that are affordable, … but you also need housing stock that’s available for workers who can afford that mortgage payment,” he said.

2/22/19 – CCC&TI nursing cracks top 10 ranking

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by admin


February 22, 2019


By: Garrett Stell


The Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has climbed 15 spots in the last two years in a ranking of the state’s best nursing programs and now rates in the state’s top 10, according to a nursing industry website.
The No. 10 ranking from, which says it promotes excellence in nursing and provides tools for nurses, places CCC&TI ahead of most of the nursing programs at four-year universities in North Carolina, including UNC Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University. A total of 82 schools were evaluated.
This is the third year the website has issued its rankings, which are intended as a resource for prospective nursing students, said Bryce Hall of’s customer relations department.
“We use only government data so that nothing is done subjectively,” he said. “These rankings are all based on the passing rates of students taking the (National Certified) Licensure Exam for the first time.”
The licensure examination tests students in the United States and Canada and is graded on a pass/fail basis. Hall said his company uses this exam for its rankings because it is often used by state boards of nursing to assess program effectiveness.
Rankings use a weighted average of the last five years of test results, with recent performances being more important. CCC&TI has had a 100 percent passing rate in the past two years, and the school’s ranking has climbed from 25th in 2017, the first year of the rankings, to 16th last year. The college offers its nursing program at both the Hudson and Boone campuses.
Barbara Harris, CCC&TI’s dean of health sciences, said she was pleased with news about the college’s high ranking.
“Our success can be attributed to our faculty of highly qualified nurse educators who bring a diverse range of experience to our program and to the strong support for the program from the college administration, board of trustees, and the communities we serve,” she said.
The top-rated program in the state in this year’s rankings is at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington. The top program at a four-year university is Western Carolina University’s at No. 3. Duke University was sixth. UNC-Chapel Hill was 13th, and Appalachian was 18th.
The full rankings can be found online at

02/10/19 – Automated Solutions receives awards

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by admin


February 10, 2019


By: Hickory Daily Record


The year is off to a fast start at Automated Solutions. It’s only the beginning of February and already the company has received the following awards:


* ISOI Registration Certification, for customer focus leadership, quality management and continual improvement (second consecutive year).


* North Carolina Department of Labor, SHARP2 Award for safety.


* Caldwell County EDC 2018 Industry of the Year Award for continued growth and innovation.


* 2018 NCDOL Annual Safety Award Program, Gold Award – Sawmills.


* 2018 NCDOL Annual Safety Award Program, Gold Award – Lenoir (second consecutive year).


Robert Campbell Jr., co-founder and chairman of Automated Solutions, said: “We are blessed with great people, products and customers. Looking at the list of awards, it is humbling to think that we are recognized in so many different areas of our business…customer focus, leadership, quality management, continuous improvement, growth, innovation and safety … by diverse organizations that represent international, national, state, county and city perspectives.”


Automated Solutions LLC is a manufacturer of protective packaging products including PE foam, multi-layer protective bags, Cro-nel cohesive surface protection wraps, replacement cutting surfaces, and custom machinery design with plants in Sawmills and Lenoir.

02/03/19 – MDI lauded for its exports

Posted on: February 4th, 2019 by admin


February 3, 2019


By: News Topic Staff Reports


Caldwell County’s largest private employer has received a state award for its role in improving North Carolina’s agricultural exports.


Merchants Distributors Inc., which has a more than 1 million-square-foot grocery distribution complex in southern Caldwell County, was named the 2019 N.C. Exporter of the Year by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.


Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler presented the award to John Gray, director of commercial accounts for MDI, during the Ag Development Forum on Thursday at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, according to a press release.


“MDI began distributing to supermarkets in 1931 and now distributes to retail grocery stores and distributors in 35 countries throughout the world,” Troxler said. “MDI has worked with NCDA&CS to promote North Carolina manufacturing companies and to expose their products to an international customer base.”


MDI makes its export shipments from seven East Coast ports from Miami, Florida, to Elizabeth, New Jersey.


MDI is the second Caldwell County company in less than a month to receive a state award for its exports. Bernhardt Furniture Co. in Lenoir received the Top Rural Exporter award in the 2018 Governor’s Export Awards.

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