Archive for the ‘News section’ Category

11-30-2021 – Caldwell’s 20-year population growth surged, then waned

Posted on: December 1st, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 1, 2021




Nov 30, 2021


LENOIR — The populations of Caldwell County’s municipalities have drastically changed over the past 20 years.


Caldwell County saw significant population growth from 2000 to 2010, based on data from the Economic Indicators Newsletter, which provides information from the U.S. Census. The population in Caldwell County grew from 77,708 to 83,029 in just 10 years. However, from 2010 to 2020, this growth did not continue as population numbers decreased to 80,652. While Caldwell has experienced growth, the decreasing numbers within the last decade are cause for contemplation about the impact this will have on the county’s municipalities.


For example, Lenoir reaped a significant increase in population from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, the population was 16,774. Ten years later, the population had grown to 18,228, an 8.7% increase. From 2010 to 2020, though, the population grew only 0.7% to a total of 18,352 residents.


Deborah Murray, executive director at Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, cited the housing shortage as a factor in population numbers.


“Caldwell County is just now beginning to generate new housing inventory for the first time since the Great Recession in 2008,” she said. “Housing has been a top economic development priority for the EDC. Our businesses and industries will grow faster when we can meet that need.”


Jenny Wheelock, the planning director for Lenoir, said that even though jobs are available and wages have increased recently, the “huge loss of furniture manufacturing jobs in the mid-2000s” and the lack of housing has “held back our full growth potential in the last decade.”


“Great efforts have been made by local leaders over the past decade to diversify Lenoir’s and Caldwell’s economy,” Wheelock said, “and unemployment has stayed low in recent years (with the exception of COVID-19 shutdowns). But with a housing shortage also comes another problem — the in-migration of workers for the new diversified economy didn’t happen, because those workers couldn’t find housing.”


Another example is the Caldwell County part of Rhodhiss, which has seen only declining numbers over the past 20 years. In 2000, the population of people living in this section of Rhodhiss was 394. Last year, this number dropped to 358, according to the 2020 Census.


Rick Justice, the town manager for Rhodhiss, said that this loss could be attributed to the majority of residents being senior citizens.


“In a two-year span, on one street, we lost about seven individuals,” he said.


This steady decline in the population has impacted the community of Rhodhiss in a meaningful way. Justice noted that the historical values that people held for their hometown have been lost.

“Lots of people who left were major contributors to the city,” Justice said. “People who played a role in the community are now gone.”


According to the Economic Indicators Newsletter, which reports economic trends in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area, Lenoir is the second largest municipality in the region with a population of 18,352 as of the 2020 Census. Municipalities including Blowing Rock, Cedar Rock, and the Rhodhiss part in Caldwell County all saw a decrease in their populations from 2000 to 2010. However, from 2010 to 2020, Blowing Rock and Cedar Rock saw their populations increase, while Rhodhiss and other municipalities continued to have decreases in population.The largest population losses from 2010 to 2020 occurred in Gamewell (349 population decrease) and Sawmills (220 population decrease).


Area stakeholders suggest the trend that can be seen in these population numbers is one of slow, but steady, increase. With the introduction of new jobs and the development of new residential housing, there is hope the county will soon begin to see significant population growth again.


11-1-2021 – New County Manager Takes the Oath of Office

Posted on: November 2nd, 2021 by admin


November 1, 2021



November 1, 2021


Today, new County Manager Donald Duncan took the Oath of Office and assumed his duties as manager.


Duncan, who was named manger during a September 27 Board of Commissioners meeting, comes to Caldwell County from the City of Conover, where he served as City Manager, overseeing a $32 million budget and all city operations.


A graduate of Appalachian State, Duncan holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in town, city, and county management. He also earned his Master of Public Administration from Appalachian State.

10-30-2021 – CCC&TI present upcoming career courses

Posted on: November 1st, 2021 by admin


October 30, 2021




Oct 29, 2021 Updated Oct 29, 2021


LENOIR — Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is now registering for several upcoming courses, including workforce development, career training and personal enrichment. Following is a schedule of upcoming courses:


Basic Law Enforcement Training Spring Academy

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Spring 2022 Academy is taking applications until 12 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 1. The class meets Jan. 10 through May 13. Class meeting dates and times vary. Scholarships are available for students who qualify. To apply for CCC&TI’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program, please contact Program Director Andy Day at or call 828-726-2313.


Free Training for Advanced Manufacturing Careers

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s free IMPACT Institute prepares students for entry-level advanced manufacturing jobs and qualifies them for scholarships to continue their education in: Industrial Maintenance, Machining, Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering and Welding. Students must be at least 18 and have earned a high school credential. The daytime IMPACT Institute meets on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Jan. 10 to Feb. 7. The evening IMPACT Institute meets on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Feb. 7 to March 31. For more information or to register, visit or call 828-726-2242.


Plumbing I

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Caldwell Campus will offer Introduction to Plumbing (Level 1) from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 11 through April 21 in J-220. The class serves as the entry-level requirement for all other courses in the Plumbing program. This course introduces basic plumbing tools, materials, and fixtures. Topics include plumbing materials, different types of fixtures, proper tool selection and basic plumbing systems. The cost of the class is $182. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.


Furniture Technology Institute: Intro to Upholstery

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Furniture Technology Institute will offer Intro to Upholstery on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., from Jan. 10 to April 18 in J-118 on the Caldwell Campus. The course is designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to become an entry-level upholsterer. In addition, students will learn the soft skills needed for employment. The course includes core skills, training in upholstery manufacturing concepts, tools and safety and training in employability skills, communication, problem solving and critical thinking. The cost of the class is $182. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.


Furniture Technology Institute: Industrial Sewing

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Furniture Technology Institute will offer an Industrial Sewing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., from Jan. 6 to April 26 in J-121 on the Caldwell Campus. Introduction to Industrial Sewing is designed to train students in the manufacturing concepts, tools, safety and the communication skills that will help prepare them for a career as a sewer in various manufacturing settings. Emphasis is placed on machine operation, setup and maintenance, threading, sewing straight lines, corners, curves and welts. Upon completion, students should be able to set up and operate a variety of industrial sewing machines. The cost of the class is $182. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.


Electrical Lineworker I

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer Electrical Lineworker I Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Nov. 29 to Jan. 26 on the Caldwell Campus. The Electrical Lineworker Institute prepares students for a career as an apprentice for a Journeyman Lineworker. In this program, students will develop the knowledge and skills to install, operate, maintain, and repair outdoor residential, commercial, and industrial electrical systems, and associated power transmission lines. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.


10-14-2021 – Catawba Valley home sales swing upward

Posted on: October 14th, 2021 by admin


October 14, 2021




Oct 13, 2021


LENOIR — Home sales continue to sizzle across the four-county Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area, according to a monthly report on real estate transactions.


Home sales in Caldwell County in August increased 25.3% from August 2020, with 94 homes sold compared to 75 last year, according to Canopy MLS, operated by the Canopy Realtor Association.


The number of houses going under contract rose 27.3%, from 66 in August 2020 to 84 this year.


As has been the case for many months, demand for houses exceeded supply, so prices also continued to go up. The median, which is the point where half of all sales were more and half were less, was $221,550 in August, up about 20% from August 2020, Canopy said.


Sellers got just over 99% of their asking price, and houses were on the market an average of just 19 days until they went under contract, the report said.


The increase in prices in Caldwell County stood in contrast to neighboring Burke County, where the number of homes sold rose 28.8% but the median price actually declined 1.5%.


Cory Klassett, president of Catawba Valley Association of Realtors, said the area’s low cost of living and nearness to Charlotte and Raleigh make the overall Hickory region attractive, especially to “those buyers interested in the slower pace and lifestyle that smaller towns in the region provide.”


But he said a recent rise in mortgage rates could be expected to dampen the market some and reduce the heavy buyer competition.


Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

10-8-2021 – Community mourns, remembers furniture mogul

Posted on: October 8th, 2021 by admin


October 8, 2021





Driving along the streets of Caldwell County, one can easily spot the Broyhill name spelled out across the community’s most treasured parks, charities, and resource centers — the latest being Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute’s Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies.


Paul Hunt Broyhill grew the company his father and uncle started into one of the largest furniture companies in the world, but locally he was best known for his treatment of employees and contributions to the community.


Broyhill, 97, past chairman of Broyhill Furniture Industries, passed away Tuesday night after a period of declining health.


Broyhill was the son of J.E. Broyhill, who, with his brother T.H. Broyhill, started what became Broyhill Furniture. At its peak in the 1970s, under Paul Broyhill’s leadership, the company had 20 factories and employed about 7,500 people.


Rick Coffey, who used to work for Paul Broyhill as the youngest plant manager within the company, said his relationship with Broyhill has been one of his greatest honors.


“Paul considered me one of ‘his boys,’ ” he said.


Coffey keeps a picture behind his desk of himself, Broyhill, Wes Collins, and Bob McCreary — all furniture industry legends from when he gave them a tour of McCreary’s operations.


“It was an honor to be able to let him know what a positive influence my years at Broyhill had on my career,” he said.


Coffey, who is now the president and chief operating officer of McCreary Modern, said the company’s procedures mirror a lot of what Coffey learned under the mentorship of Broyhill.


“He will be sorely missed,” he said.


On Wednesday, Exela Pharma Sciences lowered the company’s flag to half-staff in remembrance of Broyhill.


Exela is a fast growing, specialty pharmaceutical company located in Lenoir, with corporate headquarters located in a building built by Broyhill.


Broyhill attended the ribbon cutting that celebrated Exela moving into his former building, and expressed his support for ushering in a new industry to Caldwell’s economy.


Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said she admired Broyhill and felt privileged to know him and see firsthand what a profound impact he had.


“So many state and federal officials that come through this area always know who he is, and they always sought out his advice and support.” she said. “He was a great man and one of the most generous.”


Many who knew Broyhill describe him as a visionary, but few realized it as tangibly as Steve Pond, the founding publisher of Furniture Today, a publication dedicated to the furniture industry. Pond went to see Broyhill in Lenoir in 1976 to talk about Pond’s idea for starting Furniture Today. Pond, who had yet to quit his job to even begin work to begin the publication, was blown away by Broyhill’s response.


“Paul immediately grasped the idea.” Broyhill told Pond the industry needed it and offered on the spot to buy subscriptions for all 2,000 of his company’s customers, Pond said. “I got handed a check for $12,000 for an idea.”


Jerry Church, town manager of Granite Falls, is yet another individual greatly impacted by Broyhill.


“My first job at Broyhill was in 1973, when I worked second shift at the Plant No. 55 Central Fabric facility in Whitnel. I was a junior in high school,” he said. “After high school, I started working at the Lenoir Chair No.3 upholstery facility in Whitnel where I, and many others, discovered that I was the worst upholsterer in the history of the company.”


Church said it was during these years that he met Broyhill for the first time.


“My first day at the Broyhill Office, I had lunch in the cafeteria and was sitting at a table by myself when someone asked if they could join me. It was Mr. Broyhill,” he said.” I knew who he was so I said, ‘sure Mr. Broyhill’ to which he responded ‘it’s Paul.’


Church said it didn’t take him long to realize Broyhill knew much more about him than he knew about Broyhill.


“Eventually he stated, ‘Wasn’t your sister a Broyhill Scholar?’ he knew she was, and then followed up by stating that he didn’t remember me as being a Broyhill Scholar.”


“I replied that I would have been one, if the requirements didn’t consider good high school grades in order to get the college scholarship,” Church said. “The last time I saw Mr. Broyhill in person he ‘ribbed’ me by asking how it felt to be the second smartest kid in a two-kid family.”


Church said his lunch-time story is just one example of how Broyhill connected with Broyhill employees.


“He was a true gentleman and loved his ‘work family’ deeply. He sent me notes and called me whenever I was promoted throughout my 28 career with Broyhill,” Church said.


“Mr. Broyhill can be referred to in many different terms; innovator, benefactor, successful businessman, mentor, family man, gentleman, visionary, etc.,” he said. “I am thankful that I can call him friend. There are many other former employees of the company that enjoy that same privilege. He will be missed by many. Rest in peace Mr. Broyhill.”


The executive director of the Broyhill Family Foundation, and Broyhill’s personal assistant of 20 years, Sheila Triplett-Brady, said, “from an insider’s view, the man was just as great as he was perceived to be.”


“Together we wrote his memoir and I listened to his stories of the past. He loved to sing, ‘Those Were the Days, My Friend; We Thought They’d Never End,’ but he was not stuck in the past,” she said. “Until the end of his life he remained vital and engaged. His mind was sharp, his humor intact, and his generosity incredible—especially in his beloved Lenoir and the surrounding area,” she said.


“His generosity had such breadth, depth, and scope, that his mark will remain indelible,” she continued.


Guy Lucas of The High Point Enterprise contributed to this story.

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

10-1-2021 – Start of school year boosted jobs

Posted on: October 4th, 2021 by admin


October 1, 2021




Sep 29, 2021


The return of school-related jobs helped nudge the local unemployment rate down in August, according to a state report.


Caldwell County’s unemployment dropped by 0.2 of a percentage point to 4.4%, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


That reflects the start of the school year in August and the resumption of related jobs that are not year-round. Statewide, local unemployment rates dropped in 93 of the 100 counties and increased in just two, and all but two of the 100 had a small change, between 0.1 and 0.3 of a percentage point.


Burke County’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 and Catawba’s by 0.2, with both reaching 4.1%.


The unemployment rate in the overall Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area dropped 0.2 to 4.1%, remaining the fifth-lowest among the state’s 15 metro areas.


Caldwell’s labor force grew slightly, remaining well above 36,000 but short of its pre-pandemic level. Burke and Catawba saw similar small increases in their labor force, although statewide the labor force slightly shrank.


An increase in the labor force is generally seen as a good sign because it indicates that some of the long-term unemployed, who do not get counted in the unemployment rate because they had stopped looking for work, gained enough confidence in the economy to begin seeking work.

9-29-2021 – Commissioners announce new county manager

Posted on: September 29th, 2021 by admin


September 29, 2021




Sep 28, 2021



LENOIR — During Monday night’s Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meeting at the City-County Chambers in Lenoir, Donald Duncan, the current manager of Conover in Catawba County, was formally hired in a unanimous vote.


Duncan has led the city of Conover for the past 15 years, where he oversees a $32 million budget, and all city operations with 153 employees. A graduate of Appalachian State University, Duncan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a concentration in town, city, and county management. He also earned his Master of Public Administration degree from Appalachian State, which has one of the top-ranked local government programs in the United States, according to a press release issued by the county.


Duncan will be paid $170,000 per year, and receive an additional $27,596 in annual stipends and reimbursements for job related expenses such as memberships, phone payment, car payment, and professional development, his contract states.


County Commission Chairman Randy Church said the extensive search started in June of this year with around 20 applicants for the position.


“We had a candidate that came to the top as the cream of the crop, and we feel very fortunate to announce his acceptance,” Church said.


Duncan said, “My family and I look forward to making Caldwell County our home. The commissioners and staff work hard to create opportunities and a wonderful quality of life for all residents. I am excited at the chance to continue to build upon their success.”


Duncan will replace interim County Manager Tony Helton, the county finance officer, who was appointed as interim in May following the firing of Stan Kiser.


Kiser, who began working as county manager on Oct. 1, 2009, was terminated for his “substantial failure to perform the duties as manager as assigned to him by the statute and by the board of commissioners,” Commissioner Donnie Potter said in the meeting when the commissioners made the announcement last May.


In hiring the replacement, Potter said, “There were a lot of hours, conversations, and many interviews, and quite frankly, I think hiring Mr. Duncan will be the legacy of this board that we leave behind.”


According to the contract, Duncan will begin his duties as Caldwell County manager starting Nov. 1, and will move to Caldwell County no later than Oct. 31.

9-22-2021 – Council congratulates Fairfield Chair Co. on 100 year anniversary

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021 by admin


September 22, 2021



The City of Lenoir City Council recognized and congratulated Fairfield Chair Company on its 100 Year Anniversary Tuesday night.


Mayor Joe Gibbons read and presented a resolution to Mr. John Beall, Chairman of the Fairfield Chair Company Board of Directors, and Board Member Mr. Stewart Beall during the Sept. 21, 2021, City Council meeting. The resolution thanks the company for its many contributions to Lenoir and congratulates the Beall family on the 100 year anniversary of the company. The full resolution is included below. Mayor Gibbons also gave the Bealls a framed City of Lenoir City flag.


“I want to thank you on behalf of Stewart and myself,” Mr. John Beall said. “Our success has been our ability to recognize talent and to hire employees, thousands of them over the 100 years, and treat them well. We’re grateful to the City for the infrastructure they provide, and the fine fire department that is really important and holds down our insurance rates. We get a lot of support from the City of Lenoir and we’re very appreciative.”


Fairfield Chair Company was incorporated in the City of Lenoir in 1921and all of the company’s manufacturing, warehousing, and trucking facilities are still located in the City and Caldwell County. In 1970, Fairfield Chair built the iconic civic center building on 321 to serve as the company showroom. Today, the company operates more than 500,000 square feet of production, warehousing, and display space, and Fairfield Chair is the ninth largest employer in Caldwell County.


Beall said he was also proud of what the company has accomplished, and he added that family and staff are working on their second 100 years.

9-15-2021 – 1841 Cafe’s pandemic success story

Posted on: September 16th, 2021 by admin


September 15, 2021




Sep 14, 2021


Vickie Setzer was just months away from having to close one of Lenoir’s most beloved local restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I was going to close 1841 Cafe in March of 2020,” Setzer said. “I was two, going on three months behind on rent, power, everything.”


Despite more than 550 five-star reviews on Google, the restaurant appeared ready to succumb to pandemic-related restrictions and economic hardships.


Carmela Tomlinson, the director of the Small Business Center at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, was in the process of advertising a new grant when she and Setzer connected. The “Reboot, Recover, and Rebuild,” or R3, grant program was initiated through small business centers across the state to provide resources and assistance to local businesses struggling to navigate the added pressures of a global pandemic.


North Carolina’s General Assembly provided the finances to back the grants.


“If it hadn’t been for the Small Business Center, we would have never made it, Setzer said.


Through the grant, 1841 was able to add two employees and retain 10 through the COVID-19 pandemic.


Setzer received 30 hours of consultation and training on everything from managing finances, reviewing expenses, marketing, policies, employee retention and training, pricing, menu analysis and more.


While Setzer was only granted consultation and training through the R3 grant, the center also worked to ensure Setzer was signed up for every other grant and loan available through pandemic recovery plans.


“The loans got me enough money to get up on my feet, and once that happened, we got to start to-go orders,” Setzer said.


“And let me tell you what this town did. They would go to Taste of Havana and get an entree, they would go down to Fercott (Fermentables) and get their craft beer and wine, they come here and got entrees, they went to Shake-N-Dog and got for the kids, went to Piccolo’s for pasta and pizza and the (Side Street) Pour House, and everybody came together to make it work,” she said. “They weren’t going to the chains. They came here. They helped us survive.”


A little over a year since the Small Business Center stepped in to guide Setzer, she said her biggest problem now is needing more staff.


“We need servers desperately, we need a prep cook desperately, I need a fry cook, I need an expo and a hostess,” she said.


Tomlinson said the Small Business Center was so successful in using the grant funds within the county, it received some leftover money from other North Carolina small business centers to further aid in economic recovery.


“What’s really cool is we took these grants and we helped businesses, but I was able to hire other local businesses to help them, so we spread the love to all these companies. I loved that part about the grant,” Tomlinson said. “It’s important that local businesses are aware of the resources and help that is available to them during difficult times.”


The small business center is at the HUB Station, 143 Cedar Valley Road in Hudson, and can be reached at 828-726-3065.


Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

9-15-2021 – Small Business Week runs through Sunday

Posted on: September 15th, 2021 by admin


September 15, 2021





RALEIGH – Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Roy Cooper, this week marks Small Business Week.


Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed Sept. 12-19, 2021, as Small Business Week to highlight the importance of small, independent businesses and entrepreneurship to North Carolina’s economy.


“As the backbone of our economy, small business owners and entrepreneurs are crucial pillars to North Carolina’s success,” Cooper said. “With much dedication even before the pandemic, the small business community has been the center of our economic prosperity from the mountains to the coast.”


Small Business Week celebrates the remarkable entrepreneurial spirit of North Carolina small businesses as they navigate the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic while continuing to support their employees and local communities. Pre-pandemic, the state’s 934,000 small businesses accounted for 99 percent of all North Carolina employers with the pandemic spurring a record-breaking number of business formations.


“North Carolina’s diverse small businesses and innovative startups are the heart and soul of their communities as job creators and community builders,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “Beyond our local communities, small businesses are significant contributors to North Carolina’s trade industry and global manufacturing reputation as they generate more than $29 billion in total exports. We are grateful for their enthusiasm and resilience and we remain committed to supporting their growth and success.”


Collaboratively, public agencies, education institutions and private-sector organizations assist small businesses with growth strategies and job creation by providing workforce training, business mentoring, financial assistance, research, technical assistance, and export services.


North Carolina provides many services to small businesses through NCWorks, community college small business centers, the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center, SCORE, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Rural Center and a toll-free information and referral service known as the Small Business Advisors hotline.

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