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Gaston County Closes Library, Senior Center

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County continues to respond to COVID-19, announcing today it is closing all 10 branches of its public library system for at least the next three weeks.

County leaders are evaluating needs on a day-by day basis and will have a decision made by the end of the month whether those closures will need to be extended.

The closure order goes into effect on Tuesday, March 17. Also included in the closure order is the Gaston Senior Center in Dallas, the Gaston County Museum in Dallas, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension – Gaston County Center in Dallas and the Gaston County Travel and Tourism Center in Belmont. In addition, Gaston County’s Veterans Services Office is closed to in-person appointments, but is still offering services telephonically.

The order is part of the County’s goal of limiting large gatherings after Chairman Tracy Philbeck issued a State of Emergency on Sunday limiting gatherings to no greater than 50 people.

The Board of Commissioners are playing their part as well. They are canceling work sessions during the months of April and May. Clerk to the Board Donna Buff is working to reschedule any non-essential items that would cause large crowds for the meetings that will need to take place.

Additionally, public zoning meetings will be delayed until May 26th. For the Board of Commissioners meetings that will still happen over the next six weeks – beginning with March 24th – the County will limit the total number of persons inside the commissioners meeting room to no more than 50. Two rooms are available elsewhere inside the Gaston County Courthouse, where the board meets, for any overflow crowds to be able to watch the meeting via livestream on television.

Advisory boards will delay meetings until May at the earliest unless absolutely necessary.

On Monday afternoon, Gaston County manager Dr. Kim Eagle led a teleconference of municipal leaders and community partners to discuss response to COVID-19. Many municipalities, including Gastonia, Lowell and Ranlo, mentioned they have halted water-service turn-offs during this crisis. The cities and towns of Gaston County have worked in close coordination with County leadership to ensure the safety of their citizens and a consistent message.

Dr. Jeff Booker, Superintendent of Gaston County Schools, said the district will begin feeding students breakfast and lunches via grab-and-go sites at 11 schools across the county (see the end of the release for full list).

Also on Monday, Chairman Philbeck announced the formation of a faith-based task force, to communicate with various congregations across the county during the coronavirus threat.

He’s asked Venture Lead Pastor Austin Rammell and Friendship Baptist Church Bishop John McCullough II to co-chair the task force, which will be critical in reaching out to Gaston County’s faith-based community.

Pastor Rammell spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon, pleading with other pastors to be responsible in the shepherding of their congregations and to heed the advice of health professionals. Rammell also brought to the table concerns about gatherings such as weddings and funerals for the 50-person gathering restriction, which the county has currently under discussion.

Video of Monday’s press conference will be made available on the County’s YouTube page, shared on its social media channels and available at GastonGov.com.

School sites for grab-and-go meal distributions:

Bessemer City High School, 119 Yellow Jacket Lane, Bessemer City
Cherryville Elementary School, 700 East Academy Street, Cherryville
Erwin Community Center, 913 North Pryor Street, Gastonia
Grier Middle School, 1622 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia
Kiser Elementary School, 311 East College Street, Stanley
North Belmont Elementary School, 210 School Street, Belmont
Robinson Elementary School, 3122 Union Road, Gastonia
Tabernacle Baptist Church, 519 West 19th Avenue, Gastonia
Warlick Academy, 1316 Spencer Mountain Road, Gastonia
Woodhill Elementary School, 1027 Woodhill Drive, Gastonia

At each location, distribution will take place on the following days from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon:

Tuesday, March 17
Wednesday, March 18
Thursday, March 19
Friday, March 20
Monday, March 23
Tuesday, March 24
Wednesday, March 25
Thursday, March 26
Friday, March 27

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