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Catawba Valley home sales swing upward
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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

School shifts bad behavior with kindness movement
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HUDSON- A string of disruptive behavior led South Caldwell High School seniors Grace Munday and Michael Mesa to spark a new movement, after they grew tired of watching their fellow classmates fight and destroy school property.

Munday, student body president and student ambassadors co-president, and Mesa, senior class president, said they were both hyper-aware of the school’s social shortcomings, and thought an extra dose of student-led kindness might go a long way.

“Kindness Week is an event the school hosts every year, but normally student ambassadors, (an after school club), are in charge of it,” Munday said. “It was a week-long thing where students pass out candy to students at the door and write notes to teachers on the board, and post encouraging notes around the hall that the students can take.”

“But this year we’ve had lots of..we’ll call them disagreements..and a lot of disrespect in general from students to teachers, and students to students as well. We really needed to amp it up this year so that it would have an actual impact and not just be something a club did to say they did it,” she added.

When asked why they believed the behavior was so destructive this year, the students expressed they believe it is the effects of quarantine and remote learning.

Munday said, “they aren’t used to being in an environment where they go to school everyday and respect the environment.”

Tik-Tok, a popular social media app, had sparked a slew of bad behavior stemming from a challenge called “devious licks,” where students are challenged to steal things from the restroom, she said.

“We had to close our bathrooms, it was so bad,” Munday said.

Mesa added there were a lot of fights happening within the school as well.

“We thought it would be a good idea to get other clubs involved, so that we have a unity thing and it’s not just a separate group doing everything for everyone,” he said. “This way it was different groups working together for a common good.”

Munday said, “We realized one club was not going to make that much of a difference. The demographic of one club is the same, and we really wanted to reach a broad spectrum in our school.”

A lot of clubs joined in, Munday said, such as the student council.

“They did their own things, like candy bars for teachers, where students wrote encouraging messages to teachers on them,” she said. “We even had the band and chorus get involved.”

“Band welcomed everyone through the door that Friday and had dance teams and music playing, and the Beta Club was passing out notes, and the chorus went through the school and sang happy songs that the teachers had approved beforehand,” she added.

Munday said she also reached out to Mike Sheely, owner of Chick-fil-a in Lenoir.

“I told him, I have an idea and I need your help,” she said.

The school has a program during Kindness Week, where teachers can nominate other teachers and students for going out of their way in being kind.

“I told Mike Sheely what our mission was and that he had an opportunity to make a difference for kids in his own community, and he said ‘I’ll help you with anything then,’ ” Munday said.

Sheely then donated 97 free sandwich cards to South Caldwell High School for every student and teacher nominated, she said.

Both students agreed that the sense of unity is now tangible throughout the school.

Munday said after kindness week, the restrooms have reopened and there have been no reported fights since the movement.

Mesa agreed, “having Kindness Week showed them how to treat people.”

“Some of the kids I handed candy out to will see me now and come up and talk to me and ask me how I am, and I’ll ask how their day is going, and it’s like they’re finally realizing how people interact in a positive way,” she added.

Munday said she wanted to show the students “the South that we know and love. I want to leave this place better than I found it,” Munday said.

“I have heard people say horrible things about South Caldwell, and some of them have been true, but I honestly love it here. I wanted to show the new kids, and our community that we agree on so many more things than we disagree on,” she added.

Mesa said he had a different perspective on why Kindness Week was needed.

“She (Munday) is saying we have a lot of great aspects, and we do, we really do, but I think the past few years- at least for the years I’ve been here, I haven’t got to see all of the great stuff. I want other students to see that before I leave,” he said.

Mesa said he wanted to leave a place where kids can feel safe and comfortable, “in a way that some of us never really did.”

“Like she said, leave it better than how we found it,” he said.

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

Home-care agency strives to become community resource
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HUDSON — Caldwell Home Services cut the ribbon on their new location on Wednesday, celebrating the company’s grand re-opening.

The business provides in-home care services for elderly and disabled people by assisting clients with personal care and activities of daily living.

When Amanda Collins first purchased the business in 2017, the company spent a brief amount of time in Lenoir.

She moved Caldwell Home Services back to Hudson.

“This is my hometown. I want to serve the people where I grew up,” Collins said. “It’s a grand-reopening but it’s kind of like a whole new business with the same name. The only thing that hasn’t changed is our level of care.”

The company’s personal care staff is supervised by licensed, skilled professionals with over 15 years of experience in providing home care services to individuals, and pride themselves on the affordability of care, she said.

Collins, who has a bachelor’s degree in social work, said, “I want people to know that we’re not just a home care agency. We want to be a resource in the community.”

“Anyone can pop in that is in need of help or guidance in regards to any social needs like where to get food or shelter,” she said. “Especially new and arriving people, they don’t really know where to go, and I’m happy to help with that.”

Most health care clients are referred to the business through Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and word of mouth from members in the community but those in need of friendly guidance are welcome guests of the business, Collins said.

Jessica Teeters, who helped with the new logo and branding, said “the motto is ‘caring that never ends’,” and she feels it perfectly illustrates both the business and employees approach to caregiving.

Hudson Mayor Janet Winkler was among the ribbon cutting attendees.

“We are so thrilled to have this business in Hudson. They do an amazing job with a caring heart,” she said.

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