News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
April 8, 2015
Legislative Breakfast Slated for Friday, April 25

Area lawmakers and key issues facing the NC General Assembly will be in the spotlight on Friday, April 25, at the Burke Chamber's Annual Legislative Breakfast, The event is being sponsored by Duke Energy and hosted by Grace Ridge Retirement Community. Tickets are $20 and may be reserved by calling the Chamber at 437-3021. You may also reserve your tickets on-line. The event will be held in the Ervin Community Room at Grace Ridge. A hot breakfast buffet will open at 730 am, with the program starting at 8 am sharp. 

"This is one of the most popular events on the Chamber's calendar, so I encourage everyone to obtain their tickets early. We're expecting a full house, and seating will be limited," said Chamber CEO Jerry Davis.

As the newsletter went to press, Representative Hugh Blackwell and Senator Warren Daniel from Burke County had confirmed as speakers, along with Representative Josh Dobson from McDowell County. Representative Mike Hager had not confirmed at press time.

Each of these elected leaders will share their perspectives on major legislation in the current session of the General Assembly. There will also be time for questions from the audience.

Caterpillar Reaches Safety Milestones 


Caterpillar's Precision Engine Components (PEC) facility in Morganton has recently passed several milestones on its safety journey. On January 23, 2015, the facility achieved one year without a recordable injury, representing the third time in the last four years for this accomplishment. On February 19, the team pCaterpillarassed another significant milestone: six years without a lost time injury. In March Caterpillar's team exceeded its all-time record number of days without a recordable injury -- more than 420 days. 

 An improved culture of safety plays a large part in these milestones, and  is taking notice. The state agency's most recent kudos to Caterpillar include:

  • A Certificate of Safety Achievement with two consecutive years at the Silver level; 
  • Two consecutive years at the Gold level and 
  • The One Million Hours Worked award.  

"Caterpillar has invested in equipment, guarding and controls, in addition to an investment in culture to arrive at this point," said Facility Manager Doug Whiteley. "At Caterpillar's PEC facility, everyone has a hand in it."

Duke Energy Foundation Awards Foothills Conservancy $100,000 to Protect Critical Catawba River Watersheds in South Mountains

Morganton-based Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has received a $100,000 grant from Duke Energy's new Water Resources Fund in support of the acquisition of one of the largest remaining unprotected Catawba River Basin watershed tracts in the South Mountains.


The grant rounds out more than $3 million in funding required for Foothills Conservancy, a regional land trust, to purchase and permanently protect the 2,213-acre tract this summer with its partner, N.C. State Parks. About 720 acres will be added to South Mountains State Park along the park's northeastern border. The conservancy will retain and manage approximately 1,500 acres as its new South Mountains Headwaters Preserve for the protection of water quality, biodiversity and wildlife habitat and will work with State Parks to integrate a trail network. The grant is part of the Water Resources Fund, a $10 million commitment from Duke Energy dedicated to protecting and enhancing regional waterways and the environment.

 Foothills Conservancy is one of 15 organizations across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to collectively receive more than $1 million in the first grant announcement of 2015. The Water Resources Fund is a multi-year commitment that will leave a legacy of improved water quality, quantity and conservation in the Carolinas and neighboring regions.

"Our state's mountain watersheds are among our most critical green infrastructure and must be protected," said Susie Hamrick Jones, Foothills Conservancy's executive director. "We thank Duke Energy for its support for this project and welcome its commitment to protecting and preserving our region's precious waters."

 The watershed tract contains more than 16 miles of headwater streams that feed both the Jacob Fork and the Henry Fork Rivers, which eventually join to form the South Fork Catawba River, a critical regional water source. To complete the South Mountains Headwaters acquisition, Foothills Conservancy will combine $95,000 from the Duke Energy grant with more than $2 million in grants made to the conservancy and N.C. State Parks by the N.C. Clean Water Trust Fund and other state and federal grant programs, and approximately $1.1 million in private funds and donated land value. The remaining $5,000 in Duke Energy funds will support planning for future public recreational access with South Mountains State Park.


"The Water Resources Fund is a testament to Duke Energy's long history of investing in the health and vitality of our communities," said Stick Williams, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. "We look forward to our partnership with Foothills Conservancy and the impact this grant will have in the Catawba River Basin." The Duke Energy Foundation and community leaders will gather on April 30 to honor the inaugural Water Resource Fund grant recipients and celebrate their ongoing commitment to communities across the Carolinas.


Mimosa Hills to Unveil New Bar & Grill This Week

Chamber members are invited to be among the first to see Mimosa Hills new bar and grill during a two day grand opening this Thursday and Friday, April 9-10. The festivities will begin with a ribbon cutting Thursday morning at 11:00. To celebrate, Mimosa Hills will also be offering great food and beverage specials both days at lunch and during Happy Hour between 5 and 7 pm.

New Website Offers a Wealth of Jobs Info 

The Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) has been working on a new website and last month it went live at The site offers both relevant and easy-to-find access to job search tools, grant information, business resources and materials vital to job seekers and businesses in Burke, Alexander, Caldwell and Catawba Counties. You can also reach the new site by visiting and clicking on the "Workforce Development" link under "Services."  Under "Career Centers," you'll find regular updates and postings about workshops, job fairs, business recruitment events, training opportunities, grants, and articles related to both job seekers and employers. 

Morganton Shines at NC Main Street Conference

Congratulations to the City of Morganton Main Street Department for winning three awards during the 2015 N.C. Main Street Conference held in March in Morganton. More than 500 representatives from towns across the Tarheel State spent three days in the city and surrounding areas.

The Morganton Main Street Department received awards for
  • "Best Public Relations Effort" for the City's Main Street Program Energizes Downtown brochure and video;
  • "Best Image-Building Campaign" for the City's Wayfinding Project, and
  • "Best Business Retention, Expansion or Recruitment Effort" for the City's Creative Arts Center Recruitment Initiative.                                                      
  • In addition to the three awards, Dr. Gresham Orrison was named Morganton's 2014 Main Street Champion. Dr. Orrison has worked with Morganton's Main Street program for more than 23 years. As a property owner of more than 15 properties in Downtown, he has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his properties and completed several first-class renovations. 

Free Economic Development Workshop Coming on April 22

A workshop designed to help participants learn about economic development and how it really happens in communities will be offered on April 22 at the Foothills Higher Education Center. Billy Ray Hall, former President of the Rural Center, is one of the keynote speakers during the morning session. To register for this free workshop, click here.

Stickers are out! Plaques are in!


Your 2015 Burke Chamber membership plaque is here and waiting for you at the Chamber offices (110 East Meeting St. across from the Historic Burke County Courthouse). Be sure to also pick up copies of the 2015 Chamber magazine and directory. It's great for recruiting, for visitors and for people relocating to our beautiful county.

Catawba Regional Hospice Achieves SHARP Success

Catawba Regional Hospice (CRH) has renewed its SHARP certification for a second time. SHARP, the Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program, is affiliated with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and acknowledged by the state of North Carolina. By achieving SHARP status, CRH places itself in an elite group of small businesses that maintain exemplary injury and illness prevention programs in the workplace.

The SHARP process features a variety of requirements, including a consultation visit to identify hazards, the involvement of employees, the correction of any noted hazards, an ongoing program to prevent illness and injury, maintenance of workplace incident rates below national averages, and keeping OSHA informed of changes to working conditions or of new practices that could involve hazards.

Among the benefits Catawba Regional Hospice realizes through SHARP certification are:
* Increased protection of staff from workplace hazards
* Strong culture of workplace safety and employee morale
* Status as an industry leader through reputation and recognition
* Cost savings via employee safety and retention

The same measures that guard CRH staff from potential dangers also provide patients and families an extra layer of protection and security, meaning they can be confident in CRH's overall attentiveness to the physical environment, processes and procedures, and employee observations and training. Such vigilance translates into exceptional patient care that families can appreciate and trust.

Friday Is Deadline to Register for WP Foundation Golf Classic 


This coming Friday is the deadline to sign
A contender tees off at the 2014 Classic.
up if you want to join in on the fun at the Western Piedmont Foundation's 31st Annual Golf Classic on Monday, May 4, at Mimosa Hills. The annual tourney provides funding for professional and community development at Western Piedmont Community College. Community members or business leaders may enter a team, participate as an individual player or be a supporting hole sponsor. Play will begin  at 12:30 p.m. on May 4 with a shotgun start following lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. An evening reception and awards ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. when team awards and hole prizes will be presented. To learn more or to request a registration form, please visit the event website, contact Western Piedmont Foundation at (828) 448-3122 or The field will be limited to 25 teams.


"Be an Angel" Next Week at Burke Hospice Gala  

Burke Hospice & Palliative Care's "Be an Angel" annual gala has become a Burke County favorite, and this year's "heavenly evening" promises to continue the tradition. It will be held on Saturday, April 18, from 7-10 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Burke Hospice Patient Family Care Fund. This year's can't-miss gala will feature food tastings, live music and a silent auction at the Old Armory Building, 306 West McDowell St, in Morganton. For tickets or to be a sponsor, contact Chasity Poteat at 828/879-1601 or Sponsors will also be treated to a pre-gala Champagne Toast from 530-7 pm at "Lone Pine," the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Collett. Burke Hospice and Palliative Care serves Burke, Catawba, Caldwell, Avery, McDowell, Rutherford, Cleveland and Lincoln counties of Western North Carolina.    

Building Community...


New EMS Station Reduces Response Time


Burke County's new EMS Station 7, located
Burke County Commission Chairman Johnnie Carswell talks about his excitement over the new EMS Station 7 with emergency medical professionals.
behind the Senior Services Center in Morganton, is already proving its value. Officials held a ribbon cutting on March 20 to celebrate the opening of the new station that was built, in part, to reduce response times to medical emergencies for residents living on the western side of the county. 
 In addition to ambulance bays, the new facility features a combined kitchen and living room area, along with three bedrooms, men's and women's bathrooms with showers, laundry area and computers for crews to file reports. It replaces a temporary station that had operated on the same site for the last two years. The $1.2 million building is fully paid for, since the County had set aside funds starting in its 2013-14 budget. 


Drawing is Next Week for Designer Piece at Art Gallery

A limited number of tickets remain at the Burke Arts Council Jailhouse Gallery in the drawing for a custom French 108 chest, handcrafted by John Ferguson, master craftsman and Western Piedmont Community College wood instructor. The solid cherry chest, a Chris Bergelin Design, was once manufactured by the Robert Bergelin Company and is valued at $3,200. Tickets are $20 each, and a drawing for the winner will be held on Friday, April 17 at 6 pm. You do not need to be present to win. You may purchase tickets at the gallery or on-line. Only 200 tickets are being sold. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Burke Arts Council.


Barium Springs, Grandfather Home

Merge to Create Children's Hope Alliance

Two of North Carolina's most historic and prominent child welfare organizations have teamed up and now fall under a new umbrella name.  Barium Springs and Grandfather Home for Children merged last April, making the combined agency one of the largest child service providers in North Carolina.                                               

Over the past year, Barium Springs and Grandfather Home operated together, but under two separate names. On March 30, the two agencies began operating as one cohesive organization under the name "Children's Hope Alliance."

"The name, Children's Hope Alliance, encapsulates the mission of the agency which is to provide a safe, healing journey for hurting children and families - creating hope now and in the future,"explained Children's Hope Alliance President and CEO John 
Koppelmeyer. "The name is also an ode to the historic merger of 2014, a creation of an alliance, a group of people joining together to work toward the common goal of providing hope for children in need."  

To keep the historical significance of Barium Springs and Grandfather Home intact, both historical campuses will keep their names. The campus in Barium Springs will be known as Barium Springs Campus of Children's Hope Alliance, and the campus in Banner Elk will be called Grandfather Home Campus of Children's Hope Alliance.

Children's Hope Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a long history of child advocacy and welfare dating back to 1891. The mission of Children's Hope Alliance is to provide a safe healing journey for hurting children and families - creating hope now and in the future. In 2014, Children's Hope Alliance helped over 3,600 children in almost 70 counties through over 20 specialized service programs. All services provided by Children's Hope Alliance create hope for hurting children and families in three ways - healing the hurt for children and families that are troubled, abused or neglected; providing a safe home for children through group homes, therapeutic foster care and adoption; and encouraging a healthy start through educational, prevention and developmental programs.











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