City employees who are military veterans

 As we approach Veterans Day, we recognize our City of Gastonia employees who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Kenneth Auten Fire U.S. Marine Corps 1986-1994
Richard Benoy Finance U.S. Air Force 1953-1957
Jamey Blalock Police U.S. Navy 1986-1990
Sandy Botka Technology Services U.S. Air Force 1975-1995
Jamin Brackett Police NC Army National Guard 1990-1996
Chris Brown Utilities U.S. Navy  2007-2011
Brad Bumgardner   Police U.S. Army 1996-1998, 2001-2005
Dexter Burns Public Works U.S. Army 1979-1984
Travis Butler Utilities U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard/Reserve   2002-2008/2010-2016/2016-present  
Roger Cable Public Works U.S. Army  
Christian   Clinch Police U.S. Marine Corps 1991-1994, 2002
Dale Cobler Utilities    
Steve Cogdill Technology Services    
John Copeland Utilities    
Jeremy Cox Finance U.S. Air Force 1993-2002
Byron Curry Fire U.S. Navy Reserve 1988-1996
Tony Diew Transit U.S. Marine Corps 1972-1976
Robert Duncan Technology Services    
Aaron Fulton Police U.S. Navy 1997-2005
Justin Gaff Development Services   U.S. Army  
Robert Gammons Police U.S. Navy 2010-2014
Jason Gill Police U.S. Air Force 1991-2000
Al Goodson Transit U.S. Army 1973-1975
Charles Graham Legal U.S. Army Active Reserve 1979-1985
Brandon Haberski Police Army National Guard 2012-present
Tim Hall Public Works    
Jonathan  Hallman Police U.S. Air Force 2009-present
Hubert Hampton Utilities U.S. Navy, National Guard 1972-1976
Jonas Hansen Police U.S. Air Force 1982-1990
Jeremy  Harris Development Services U.S. Army  
Wayne Hendrickson Public Works U.S. Air Force 1981-1985
Michael Hindman Utilities    
Barney Huddleston Public Works U.S. Army 1967-1989
David Humphries City Council U.S. Air Force 1978-1994
Brandon Jackson      
Clifford Johnson Engineering U.S. Army/NC National Guard 1983-1986/1986-1991
Shane Johnson Police Army National Guard/Air National Guard 1992-1998/2002-present
John  Kopczinsky Fire U.S. Army/Army National Guard 2000-present
Chris Lackey Technology Services    
Mike  Lahr Schiele Museum U.S. Navy 1968-1972
Douglas  Lewis Utilities    
Josh  Love Fire U.S. Marine Corps 2008-2016
Farrell  Lovelace Engineering U.S. Navy 1978-1981
David Luoto Police U.S. Navy 1964-1967
Alan  May Schiele Museum U.S. Air Force 1968-1972
Keith  McCabe Police U.S. Army 1992-1997/2010-present
Scott  McClure Police U.S. Coast Guard, Active and Reserve 1999-2009
Michael  McKay Fire U.S. Air Force, NC National Guard 1990-1998
Mike  Michalek Public Works    
Johnny  Mooney Public Works U.S. Army 1976-1979
David  Nicholson Technology Services    
Tracy  Oates Fire U.S. Navy Reserve 1999-present
Eric  Owens Utilities U.S. Army 2009-2012
Steve  Parker Finance U.S. Air Force 1990-1993
Matt  Phillips Police U.S. Army 2001-2005
Paul  Privett Technology Services    
Mike  Rhyne Utilities U.S. Air Force  
George  Sadler Public Works U.S. Army  
Russell  Schlick Police Minnesota Army National Guard 1999-2007
Mike  Shepard Utilities U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard/Reserve  2002-2008/2010-2016/2016-present 
Matt  Sherrill Police U.S. Marine Corps 1992-1998
Jimmie  Shindler Technology Services    
Matthew Singleton Public Works U.S. Air Force 1983-1987
Mike Smith Police U.S. Army/NC National Guard 1984-2005
Sonny  Smith Schiele Museum U.S. Air Force 1966-1970
Patrick Spiker Police NC National Guard  
Mike Spriggs Utilities    
Maurice Taylor Jr. Police U.S. Navy 1990-1999 
Rodney  Thompson Fire U.S. Marine Corps 2000-2006 
Chris  Walter Technology Services    
Leo  Weisenhorn Utilities U.S. Army  
Latanya  White Fire U.S. Marine Corps 1990-1998




Tech tip - screenshots

It can be frustrating to describe over the phone what you see on your computer screen. Some people even use a smartphone to take a picture of their monitor and then text the picture to the other person.

But there is an easier way to take a screenshot in Windows versions 7, 8 and 10. Technology Services walks us through three methods, with the third option being the best.

1) Print Screen button - "amateur"

This takes a picture of everything on your computer screen. If you have multiple screens, you get one giant picture of everything. That can be cumbersome and shows far more than you typically intend.

In this example, let's say you only wanted to share a spreadsheet. But the print-screen button takes a picture of everything on your screens, including some confidential data. If you're not careful, a print-screen photo can include information you did not intend to send to someone else.

Image 1

2) Alt+Print Screen button  - "semi pro"

You can take a picture of the active application window by holding down the Alt key and pressing the print-screen button. This method allows you to take a picture of only the window with the Excel spreadsheet. But the picture includes a lot of blank rows and columns, which won't help the recipient.

Image 2

3) Snipping tool - "all pro"

The most precise screenshot method uses the Snipping Tool. Press the Windows key, typically located between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the lower left. Type "snipping" and press enter. That brings up the Snipping Tool app that looks like this:

Image 3





Click "New" on the Snipping Tool while holding down the left-click button of your mouse. Draw a box around the section of screen you want to take a picture of.

When you release the left-click button, the snipped or cropped item automatically will be copied to your computer clipboard.

Next, paste the image or picture by using Ctrl+V or right-clicking in an email, Word doc, Excel spreadsheet or almost any other application. The "snipped" spreadsheet would look like this:

Image 4

The Snipping Tool may seem like a lot of steps. But Technology Services says once you've done it a few times, it's very simple. And it lets the recipient focus their attention on the important information.

For more information about using screenshots and the snipping tool, contact the HelpDesk.

Breast cancer awareness fundraisers underway

PinkPatchGastonia Police and Fire Departments have fundraisers underway for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Gastonia Police Sergeants Association is selling pink patches for $5, and the Gastonia Fire Department is selling “Firefighters for a Cure” T-shirts for $10 or $12 depending on the size. Proceeds from both fundraisers will benefit Cancer Services of Gaston County, a nonprofit that serves residents of Gaston County who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Kim Elmore with Cancer Services of Gaston County. “We’re here to help not only the cancer victim, but also the caregivers and the families. When somebody is going through this it means a lot to know there are other people out there pulling for them, wanting to help because you can feel alone. To know people care makes all the difference in the world.”

cancer awareness T shirtThe GPD family has seen a number of former employees or retirees diagnosed with cancer and has featured some on the Gastonia Police Department’s Facebook page. Leigh Anne Price worked as a GPD officer and detective from 1987 to 1995 and then went to work as a fraud investigator at Wachovia. She died 18 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was 11 when we first found out,” said her son, Caleb Price, a GPD officer for six years and son of Jack Price, a retired GPD officer and detective. “After the first surgery, they said they got it all. It came back more aggressively the second time.”

Retired GPD Sgt. Tracy Bess modeled the pink patches and badge in a picture recently on the GPD’s Facebook page. Later Bess shared a picture of herself with her hair growing back after successful treatment. She will join about 20 GPD employees who are participating with #TeamMolly, WBTV’s Molly Grantham’s team in the Susan G. Komen Charlotte “Race for the Cure.” The 5K and 1-mile Fun Run will be held Saturday, Oct. 6, at 2316 Randolph Road, Charlotte, with registration starting at 6:30 a.m. and the event at 7:45 a.m. Anyone who’d like to participate can contact GPD Records Supervisor Janet Griffin at 704-866-6953. Or donate online at

The sale of pink badges, which is available only for police department employees, is also part of the effort. If you are interested in a pink patch or badge you may call Sgt. Nancy Capistran at 704-866-6884.

“Firefighters for a Cure” T-shirts are for sale at Station 1, located at 260 N. Myrtle School Road, and Cancer Services offices located at 306 S. Columbia Street, Gastonia, during regular business hours. Prices are $10 for Small – XL and $12 for larger sizes. Questions? Please call 704-866-6806.

Hurricane brings challenges, cheers for City workers

About 100 extra City employees had to work the weekend of Sept. 15-16 because of Hurricane Florence, keeping municipal services running, ensuring public safety and providing communication to the public and news outlets.

Text in bold below tells various ways City employees assisted the community during the storm. Words in italics are comments the public made on the City’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

  • During the storm, two trees fell on homes and four more fallen trees blocked streets. Police, Fire and Public Works responded.

Thank you for all of your hard work during this very dangerous & trying time.FB 1

Thank you for your hard work. The police have been patrolling the neighborhood with search lights aimed at the trees. I’m thinking this is a proactive measure to find trouble spots early. We are grateful for those who are away from their families serving us all. Thank you!

  • Public Works employees kept an eye on creek levels and cleaned storm drains as necessary to address localized street flooding.

Thank you! I've seen you out there working hard! Stay safe!

Thank you! We appreciate your hard work during this disaster!

  • 67 power outages were reported to the City’s electric division with 5,921 City electric customers losing power. The average outage lasted 1.2 hours.

Great efforts on the part of Utilities team. Power restored in about 20 minutes, and a team member called me directly on phone. ? ?

Thanks to all the linemen who are there for us. God’s protection over them as they work.

Electric is on it. Went off here around 5 am and was back on within the hour. Thank you guys for being on top of all this.

The City of Gastonia has the best linemen!

City of Gastonia got us back up and running within 3 hours. I am super impressed.

Electric crews have done phenomenal.

Jackson and 8th tree on houseNice having our electricity back on. Thank you so much!!!

Power’s back! That was quick. Well done @CityofGastonia.

  • Two Rivers Utilities’ water and wastewater plants functioned properly throughout the storm. Backup generators were used at several TRU sewage lift stations in Cramerton because of Duke Power outages.

Thanks for all the hard work.

Awesome job guys. Thanks for all you do.

Couldn’t ask for any better. They are the best!

  • Gastonia Fire sent a total of eight firefighters to two locations, Bladen County and Wilmington, to assist with storm response and recovery.

Prayers for all of you!!!! Thank you for your service.

Díos los bendiga y acompañe y que vuelvan con bien... Muchas gracias.

Thank you all so much for your service. God bless you and keep you safe.

  • City Solid Waste extended its Free Excess Household Trash Pickup by two days and, for two weeks, waived fees for picking up large amounts of yard waste.

Thank you for giving us more time.

Thank you for extending for those of us with earlier week pickups!

So no fee for extra limbs/storm debris this time? Thanks!

Thank you for adjusting! Much appreciated!

  • Communications and Marketing sent four news releases, posted 157 storm-related messages on Twitter and Facebook, and responded to 22 private messages on social media. In one week, the City’s Facebook posts were seen 101,000 times and Twitter posts were seen 91,000 times.

Thank you for keeping us informed, your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed! Thank you for your service.Twitter 1

I live in MD and I'm doing my best to keep up with the storm via Internet because my daughter lives in Gastonia, can you tell me what the local news and weather station and channel is for Gastonia??

Thanks for the updates!

Sharing your work is SUCH a good idea. Thanks for helping us to see the dedication and hard work of our crews during this time. Y’all stay safe.

Thank you for the updates and your quick action! I am impressed!

Thank you 1st responders for all that you do! Thank you @CityofGastonia & @walkerreidmayor for keeping the citizens of #Gastonia informed! You are Appreciated .

Just have to give city of Gastonia thumbs up for keeping this page updated during this storm. I can watch the local news but even local is not right here in my hometown. Thank you. Also thank you to the mayor, the first responders and esp the linemen.

  • City crews spent countless hours preparing for the storm, working long hours during the event and cleaning up streets, parks and other public spaces after the storm. As life began to return to normal in Gastonia, many residents shared messages of gratitude.

FB 2City of Gastonia Government thank you! Y'all have been simply amazing through all of this! Thank you all for your service.

Awesome job. A+!

I’m a very satisfied customer! Way to go!

Love the app.

Thank you @CityofGastonia!!

City of Gastonia Government thanks so much!

Fantastic job! Thank you for your hard work.

Thank you to all employees on storm duty!

Great job and I thank each and every one of you so very much! We live outside of city limits but I've seen so many of you out and about as I take my kids to school, go to the store, etc. I hope the weather will permit you all a much needed rest!

Vacation reflections

Vacation reflections

Liz Reyes says she and her husband loved everything about their trip to Greece earlier this year. Reyes is a permit technician in Development Services. She says they especially enjoyed their visit to Olympia, home of the first ancient Olympic Games. Part of the Parthenon, built 2,000 years ago to honor Athens’ patron deity Athena, is still standing. “The architecture and how this was built without modern equipment is astonishing,” Reyes says.

They were also impressed by the beauty of the many islands off the Greek coast. Reyes describes them as “breathtaking.” Her favorite was the Island of Poros where horses are the only mode of transportation. “No cars, so the air you breathed was so different and clean,” she says.

“We fell in love with the culture and how proud the Greeks are of it,” Reyes says. “The food was amazing and having coffee in a café at the edge of the Aegean Sea was spectacular!”

Reyes   group

In June, Jessie Williams went abroad for the first time, joining a church mission trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. “It was wonderful and a very eye-opening experience,” she says. Each morning, they taught Bible lessons to children using puppets and crafts. Each evening, they traveled to different towns and did street ministries using skits, songs, puppet shows and games.

Williams says the scenery was beautiful, but she was surprised by the level of poverty in the neighborhoods where they served. “The people had dirt floors in their homes and many didn’t have running water,” she says. “Many children stop going to school after sixth grade because school isn’t free there and families can’t afford it.” She was also surprised that traffic rules were rarely obeyed. “I would never attempt to drive there,” she says, “because stop signs, traffic lights and lines separating lanes seemed to be merely suggestions.”

It was Williams’ first mission trip overseas and she says she’s interested in doing another one. She is a budget analyst in Financial Services.

Williams   group

Susan Kluttz
and her husband, Craig, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with a land-and-sea visit to Alaska. She was amazed by the “incredible scenery” and says that photos “can’t truly capture the awesome beauty.”

They spent three days on land, visiting Anchorage and the small town of Talkeetna, which inspired the TV show Northern Exposure and is a base camp for many climbers of Denali, formerly known as Mt. McKinley. Kluttz says they saw moose, caribou, fox and bears in Denali National Park.

They took an all-day trip in a double-decker train with a glass-domed top. She says the views of the wilderness and mountains were beautiful, and she was surprised how many random cabins and houses were in remote areas with people living “off the grid.”

The train stopped in Whittier where they boarded a cruise ship for a seven-day tour. Kluttz describes Glacier Bay National Park and Hubbard Glacier as “breathtaking,” with “bright blue icy water and aqua tones of glaciers.” She described passengers watching from the ship as sections of the glacier broke away. “You could hear a pin drop as we watched and listened for sections of ice to thunder and pop before calving into the ocean,” she said.

They made additional stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan where they saw whales, bald eagles and sea lions.

Kluttz   group

By coincidence, Italy was the vacation destination this summer for two Gastonia Police officers. It was a honeymoon trip for Brian DiYorio and a “dream trip” for Robert Helton.

DiYorio and his new bride, Sarah, spent 14 days in Italy in June, stopping in Zurich, Switzerland on the way. Their sightseeing included Roman ruins, the Vatican, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, Michelangelo’s David statue and a 2,400-year-old castle.

A highlight of the trip was meeting some of DiYorio’s family on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples. DiYorio knew he had family there but had never met them. “I even found out one of my cousins just retired as a police chief, which was really cool since I am a police officer,” DiYorio says. The photo below on the left shows, DiYorio’s wife, DiYorio and two cousins both named Antonio. The man on the far right of that photo is the retired police chief.

DiYorio   group

Gastonia Police Chief Rob Helton says Italy “met his every expectation.” He and his wife, Ruth, toured Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, Sorrento and the Isle of Capri. He says highlights were seeing the Sistine Chapel, the statue of David, taking a nighttime boat ride through the Grand Canal in Venice, a wine tasting in Tuscany and a drive down the Amalfi Coast to Positano.

Helton says he enjoyed talking with the people, some of whom knew a little English. “I spoke to one waiter in Rome, commenting on their laid back approach to life,” Helton says. “He laughed and said, ‘You Americans, you work so hard and miss your life.’ There may be some truth in that statement.”

He says travel is something that “no one can ever take away from you,” because the memories and impressions stay with you for the rest of your life. “Ruth and I came back with the thought of taking a little more time each day to meet someone new, enjoy each hour, and purposely enjoy our life.”

Helton   group



Meet School Crossing Guard Ruth Reese

School crossing guardChildren walking to school have the help of Alton “Ruth” Reese, a school crossing guard with the Gastonia Police Department for 27 years.

The GPD currently only has seven school crossing guards who provide an invaluable service to the community. Some GPD police officers have school traffic safety duties and the crossing guards fill important gaps at various intersections in the mornings and afternoons while school is in session.

“You have to be there - they are counting on you,” Mrs. Reese said.

In the past she’s worked as a school crossing guard at York Chester Jr. High, but she’s currently helping with traffic safety at Pleasant Ridge Elementary. “It’s a new school, and we’ve got a lot of traffic,” she said, explaining that an officer handles one location and she handles the Spencer Avenue and Floyd Lane intersection.

A typical day for her is to get up, go to the school, eat lunch with her grandson, Jordan, then go back to the school crossing in the afternoon. Her grandsons Ben and Jordan Reese, are both Gastonia Police Officers. “I’m really proud of them,” she said.

She wears a brace after a knee injury that prevented her from working for about six months, and stays seated in her car until she sees kids and traffic. “Most parents take their kids to school so you have to wait and see how many kids will need your help crossing the street. I just live about a block from the school crossing.”

Promotions, changes in City HR

HR group   compressed
Judy Smith, far right, leads the Human Resources staff of Steven Alvey, Angie Thompson, Leslie Morris, Diane Shumate, Allyson Hummel, Caroline Davis and Tracy Schneider.

For the first time since 2010, the City of Gastonia has a full-time Human Resources director. Judy Smith was promoted in August from assistant director to the top job. Deputy City Manager Todd Carpenter had also acted as Human Resources director during several years of organizational change and transition. Carpenter says the hiring of a full-time HR director is good for employees and the City as a whole. “A department head fully dedicated to all things HR means total focus on continuous improvement in our service delivery and engagement of our employees,” he says.

HR will continue to handle employee-related issues like compensation, health insurance, retirement benefits and safety. In addition, Smith says HR will now be responsible for employee training and development. Her department is already creating a program focused on developing leaders. “This will be for employees who are interested in moving up through the ranks,” Smith says. Specifics are still being determined, but the leadership program might be offered twice a year.

Smith says other types of training and development are still being explored, ranging from Microsoft Excel courses for interested employees to classes for supervisors covering City employment policies, the disciplinary process or conducting interviews.

Steven Alvey was promoted to assistant director of HR and will oversee the training and development initiatives while continuing to perform risk-management responsibilities.

Smith says HR also plans to do more recruiting. “We want to go into the schools, especially for less-technical jobs that don’t require degrees, so we can get those people before they go into the workplace,” Smith says. Tracy Schneider will lead the recruiting and onboarding efforts.

“Our goal is to be a resource for employees,” Smith says. “Health insurance, day-to-day questions about payroll, the Wellness program, we’ll keep doing the core stuff. But HR is expanding and that’s exciting.”

Smith says human resources in municipal government is different than HR in many businesses, in part because the City provides a range of services and requires employees with an extraordinarily wide variety of skills. “It’s like running numerous different companies under one umbrella,” she says. “That’s what makes it so intriguing and exciting.”

Carpenter agrees. “HR, in some way, touches every City employee and plays a strategic role in managing people and our workplace culture and objectives,” he says, adding that Smith is a great choice for HR director because she’s worked in that City department for 29 years. “Judy’s knowledge of all aspects of HR is unmatched in the City,” he says. “She has proven herself as a leader with passion for the City, her employees and her department.”

City employee gets the picture - with a quote to match

A stormwater grate. A daisy. A pickup truck grill. A crumbling brick wall. Tracy Schneider’s Instagram feed brings each of these mundane items to life with unconventional lighting, unique angles and unfamiliar proximity. And on social media, she matches each photo with a quote to emphasize the emotion that each photo seems to convey.

IMG 2473 1The first thing you notice when you look at Schneider’s Instagram feed is that all of her photos are black and white. “When I first started, I put a mix of photos, color and black and white. Nearly any photo I took, I put on there,” Schneider says. But as her photography skills improved and she got feedback from others, she realized that she enjoyed black and white photography the most. It is her niche. “So I ended up deleting all of the color photos from my Instagram feed. My subject matter is all over the map, but every image is black and white.”

Because she doesn’t rely on colors, Schneider’s photos emphasize the interplay of light and dark, contrasting textures and unexpected angles. Schneider describes her subject matter as “super, super random stuff.” It is made alluring because she actively seeks out a different perspective than an eye-level, straight-on vantage point.IMG 2472 1

As an example, she recently was leaving an appointment and saw an old, corroded water main grate with shiny leaves from a plant hanging over it. “I guess not many people would have noticed it. But I got right down on it and took a picture of it.”

She says that most of her photos are of things she happens to notice while walking down a sidewalk or across a parking lot. “How I’ve not been hit by a car, I don’t know,” she says. “I’ll be looking down or not where I’m supposed to be looking. I’ll be bent over at the waist because that’s where I find stuff to photograph.”

Words and pictures

Even though Schneider has a high-end digital single-lens reflex camera, she doesn’t remember the last time she used it. She takes all of her pictures with her smartphone. “I tell people the best camera you can have is the one you have with you – your phone.” It’s not only that smartphones take great photos; Schneider says the photo-editing tools on a phone are exceptionally good.

Schneider started taking pictures when she was 8 years old. She got her first higher-quality camera when she was 13. In high school, she took a semester-long photography class, which she said left her “genuinely hooked.”

IMG 2476 1Her favorite photographic subject is flowers, often bought at Food Lion. “One thing I like to do with flowers is black out the background so it really pops,” she says. She prefers daisies because of their design. She also loves taking pictures of her six cats and three dogs.

Not surprisingly, she describes herself as a very visual person. But she also loves meaningful quotes and poetry. One of her favorite poets is Robert Frost because of the vivid imagery that comes from his words.

Every photo she posts on Instagram has a quote with it. “Sometimes the quote is misleading because it might make somebody think that I’m having a really bad day. But it’s about the emotion that’s in the picture. It’s not what I am feeling but what I think the picture is trying to portray,” she says. She never re-uses a quote with a new or different photo.

She admits that finding the right quote can often take longer than taking and editing the picture. But she believes it makes her photos more meaningful. “Some people say the quote really meant something to them, and that made them look more deeply at the photo. Or other people start by looking at the photo, then say the quote really matches it,” she says.

Whether it’s the image, the words or both, her biggest joy is when people connect with her photos. “It’s when people say they enjoy looking at the picture or that the photos inspire them to take pictures."

Reducing stress and spreading joy

Earlier this summer, City Revenue Administrator Susan Kluttz asked Schneider to take photos to hang in the new Customer Service area at the Garland Center. The photos displayed in Customer Service are of familiar City images such as the City Hall statue of children playing, the Loray Mill sign and Rankin Lake. Those photographs are in color.

“Tracy is extremely talented,” Kluttz says. “The vibrant colors of the photographs stand out and are a nice finishing touch to our new office space. And customer feedback has been very positive.”

Schneider has worked for the City for 22 years, starting in the Police Department and moving to HR in 2000. She says she’s honored to have her work hanging on the walls of the Garland Center and City Hall where the public can see it. “I went over to the Garland Center one day and I noticed that citizens were standing in line, looking at it,” she says. “If it makes standing in line seem a little less long, I enjoy knowing that.” And she enjoys the feedback she gets from her 575 Instagram followers.IMG 2474 1

However, Schneider says the biggest benefit of photography and quote-hunting is that it helps her manage stress. “I tend to have problems with anxiety,” she says. “When I’ve got a picture and I get focused on the editing, that calms me down more than the medication will. It’s a lot of work, but it allows me to focus on something pretty intensely. That allows me to decompress and it’s therapy for me.”

Schneider has never sold a photograph. Instead, she takes pictures because she enjoys it. In July, she finished the coursework for her master’s degree and hopes she’ll now have more time to take pictures. She wants to continue to find inspiration in the work of photographers like Ansel Adams and poets like Robert Frost. And she hopes to find more ways to share her love of photography with others. In her words, “Using art to connect with people’s emotions, that blows me away.” 

Some of Schneider's photos displayed in Customer Service:

Garland Center compressed  Loray Mill compressed  City Hall Statue compressed  Centennial Park compressed  Rankin Lake compressed 




10 reasons to contribute to the City's United Way campaign

UW logo

  1. United Way is results oriented. Each program is funded based on results. United Way helps people become self-sufficient members of our community. The organization addresses today’s needs and assesses each program yearly for successful measures.

  2. United Way is making a difference locally. Contributions stay in our community. People ask, “Why can’t I just donate to the organization I want to directly?” You can, but it’s so convenient to have it deducted from your paycheck, starting in January. You can do a one-time donation or have as little as a dollar come out of each paycheck. If you want to give only to a specific organization, you must donate at least $50. That $1 a week that you might put toward a candy bar or soda can, instead, make a difference in our community.

  3. United Way helps the most people. The types of services funded range from education to financial stability to health. The population of Video shot 2 1service area is 208,000. The number of lives reached by 2016 funds is 90,000, which amounts to 43 percent of the population. See where the money went from the United Way's 2016 campaign. 

  4. United Way campaigns are fun. Running a campaign is an efficient use of resources. Plus, you can be eligible for some time off. If you don’t want to donate, you don’t need to complete a form. But if you want to stop receiving email reminders about the United Way campaign you will need to sign in and click that you would like to opt-out from the email list. 

  5. United Way brings us together. By putting all of our money together we are able to address community needs in a broader way. If you can’t give money, how about donating your time to one of the organizations?

  6. United Way inspires people to do more. Everyone feels good about giving, knowing that their donations directly help those who need help the most. For those who are still unsure, take a look at the United Way’s tax returns. Live United….be the change.

  7. United Way cares about our community. United Way focuses on people and issues close to us. With three main focuses, education, financial stability and health, many local lives can be touched. See which partner organizations are funded. Other agencies are available during the campaign and you can designate to them directly if you give $50 (one time or less than $2 per pay period).Video shot 1 1

  8. United Way is efficient. Low administrative and fundraising costs mean more money goes to providing services in our community. Donations are wisely invested in high-quality, results-oriented programs. All programs are reviewed annually for success. Out of every dollar raised in Gaston County, only 10 cents goes back to United Way of Gaston County for administrative fees.

  9. United Way is a dependable partner. For more than 65 years, United Way has been improving people’s lives. We want all our neighbors to enjoy the quality of life that comes from a caring community.

  10. United Way is the right thing to do. This year’s campaign slogan is “To build stronger communities.” In 2018, City of Gastonia employees donated $28,168.24 to the United Way. Our goal for 2019 is $35,000.

See how your contribution makes a big difference:

City employees with a rural alter ego

A “high-dollar hobby” is how Jody Kiser describes his second job raising cattle and the hay to feed them. Adrian Certain plants 750 acres of row crops, which he describes as his “golf.” And despite the long hours Robert Cloninger puts in as a cattle farmer, he says it “beats watching TV.” 

All three work full time for the City of Gastonia. Spending every night and weekend farming is a labor of love, not a sure way of making a living. Or even a profit. According to the most recent census by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States has more than 2 million farmers, but more than half of them say it’s not their primary occupation. Kiser, Certain and Cloninger are among those 1 million part-time farmers who also work a full-time job for steady income, health insurance and retirement benefits.

Jody Kiser: ‘It takes a lot of work to make a little money’
Kiser has been a lineman for Gastonia's Electric Division since 1995. Seven days a week, his day starts at 5 a.m. with a check of his 70 head of Black Angus beef cattle. He owns 52 acres between Bessemer City and Cherryville, and he maintains a total of 300 acres of pastureland and hayfields. Monday through Friday, he works his day job, then heads back to the farm to cut and bale hay, mend pasture fences, vaccinate calves and tinker with cantankerous farm equipment – often wrapping up after 10 p.m. He also spends every weekend farming.

Jody Kiser farm“You have to enjoy it,” the Gaston County native says. “You can’t do it unless you enjoy it.” Kiser and his two sons, aged 18 and 25, spend hot summer Sunday afternoons cutting hay. “I like mowing hay,” Kiser says. He typically bales 400 large round bales each year, mostly for his own livestock but also to sell.

Kiser says just the fertilizer for his hay crop costs $8,000 a year. “I just throw my money on the ground,” he jokes.

His cows give birth each year and he sells the calves at auction, making $700 to $800 a piece. “But then you have to turn around and spend $3,000 on a piece of equipment,” Kiser says. “It takes a lot of work to make a little money.” And during drought years, Kiser has to buy hay from as far away as Tennessee, wiping out any profit from selling his livestock.

Kiser’s father had a few cattle, hogs and chickens, but not 70 head of cattle like Kiser. And Kiser doubts that his sons will take up farming, even part time. His older son is an electrical engineer and both sons would rather spend their spare time playing Legion baseball.

For now, Kiser expects to keep farming because he enjoys it. “I like always having something to do,” he says.

Robert Cloninger: Holy Cow and ‘It’s a beautiful thing’
Cloninger comes from a long line of farmers. He lives north of Gastonia on Cloninger Road, where his great-grandfather farmed and many extended family members follow in the tradition. When Cloninger graduated from college in 2005, he bought his first cow. He still owns her. When asked if the cow has a name, he chuckles. After some cajoling, he finally reveals her name: Holy Cow.

Heifers on Robert Cloninger's farmCloninger has had as many as 40 cattle, but that kept him too busy. Now he has 20 “mama cows” on 50 acres of hay and pastureland. By day, he is the City’s stormwater utility administrator. During an additional 30 hours a week, he raises cattle on his farm. The breed is a Gelbvieh-Angus cross, which he says is larger and meatier than traditional Angus.

He plays midwife when 18 to 20 calves are born each year, and he sells them at auction. “I do it for pleasure,” Cloninger says of farming. “Watching the calves being born, grow, run around the pasture. It brings me enjoyment.”

Cloninger says farming keeps him focused on what really matters. “You feel closer to life and the circle of life,” he says. “It’s not just the cows. It’s the grass that keeps the cows alive. The water and sun that keeps the grass alive. When you stop and think about it, it’s a beautiful thing.”

But farming is also a lot of work and responsibility. Cloninger, who is single, says his father helps him out. In the end, it’s not about getting rich. “If you want to make a million dollars on cattle, start with $2 million,” he says with a laugh.

Adrian Certain: ‘Helping to feed society’
Electric Field Technician Adrian Certain has farmed since 2004. He currently has 400 acres of soybeans and 350 acres of corn off Dallas-Cherryville Adrian Certain farmHighway. In the cooler months, he grows winter wheat. His 20-year old daughter cares for nine laying hens, the closest thing the Certain family has to livestock.

Certain grew up in a farm family and says he “loves watching stuff grow.” He inherited some of the land from his grandmother and leases the rest, currently farming a total of 750 acres of row crops.

During the spring planting season and the fall harvest, Certain says he spends 40 to 50 hours a week in the fields, in addition to his job with Gastonia Electric. His father and neighbors often help during the busiest times.

But even during the growing season, his crops need attention. Certain has to apply herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, and he has to inspect his fields.

Certain’s ability to make money on farming depends on things beyond his control. “It’s frustrating at times, like when it doesn’t rain or prices are low,” he says. Commodity prices have been down this summer because of the nation’s large 2017 soybean harvest and increasing worldwide tension over trade and tariffs.

But the ups and downs of farming are not enough to make him quit. “It’s nice to think I’m helping to feed society,” Certain says. “I really love this.”

CityNet has been updated, redesigned

Masthead and tabs

CityNet is a website that only City of Gastonia employees can access. Technology Services has made CityNet better with: 

  • A clean new look
  • Improved organization
  • Responsive or mobile-friendly design
  • Better search features
  • An interactive City employee directory

To use the interactive employee directory, type the employee’s first or last name, department or even just a phone number in the box. Click “search” and you’llEmployee Directory search get the information you need. Names and contact information are pulled from the Eden database. If you see incorrect information in the CityNet Employee Search section, please contact Caroline Davis in the Human Resources Department at 704-869-1012.

CityNet’s organization is now easy and efficient, with all documents, including policies and forms, under one tab. Not sure of the name of the document or form you need? No problem. Type a key word or two into the search tab, and possible matches will come up.

There is also a menu tab for Departments. Another for after-hours emergency contact information. And a fifth tab for Wellness. And a section where you can get employee news, including back issues of Employee Focus.

The content on the new CityNet is added and maintained by representatives from each department.

Because CityNet is not open to the public, it cannot be accessed from home computers. Even if you have a City smartphone, you can only access CityNet when your phone or tablet is in a City building and is connected to the City “Municipal” Wi-Fi network.

If you don’t have a City computer and need to access information on CityNet, talk with your supervisor or with administrative assistants in your department or division.



Gastonia, N.C., just minutes west of Charlotte, is one of the area’s best places to live and work with an ideal combination of location, size and livability. Gastonia is the largest of Gaston County’s 13 municipalities and one of the largest cities in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Selected as an All-America City three times, Gastonia’s desirable quality of life is the result of its beautiful natural surroundings, friendly neighborhoods, responsive government and vibrant business environment.


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