• Library helps children ‘get a clue’

    By Christie Barlow
    [email protected]
    The library holds just as many secrets as it does books and Al Yountz is trying to deliver that message to kids across North Carolina.

    This summer, Yountz, known as the Amazing Al, will be traveling all over North Carolina performing his “Get A Clue About Magic” program, which will make a stop at the Harrisburg library on Friday, June 22 from 2 to 3 p.m.

    Yountz performs around five tricks and then breaks them down for participants to learn. The goal of the program is to show kids the different things they can learn from books, Yountz said. The program targets younger teens and encourages them to get involved at their library.

    “(Teens are) at a time that they can become very cynical and there’s nothing that really draws in their interest,” Yountz said. “A magic show is simplistic in nature, but it draws them in because all the tricks are geared toward teens.”

    Yountz focuses on introducing the basics of magic — sleight of hand, based on the principle that the hand moves faster than the eye, misdirection, how to distract the audience from what you’re doing, and force magic, getting someone to pick a card or item that you want them to despite the illusion of free will.

    Jeff Wilkinson saw Yountz perform at the Iredell County Public library and said that Yountz was a terrific performer. He kept the kids interested and involved in the program and managed to make the adults laugh as well.

    “It was great,” Wilkinson said. “I didn’t know too much about it,( but) it’s been really good. I’ve enjoyed it and I think (my daughter’s) really enjoyed it. He’s really kept the kids into the show.”

    Yountz uses items and props that you can find around the house and at little cost. He wants to make the program something kids can use when they go home. His ultimate goal is to get kids excited about the different things they can learn in their library. His message, “Through books you can get a clue about what you want to do when you grow up.” It is a message that is close to his heart and has him dedicating his summer to performing in around 118 libraries taking him from the western part of North Carolina all the way to the Outer Banks.

    Books introduced Yountz to magic and entertainment. As a child, when Yountz wanted to go somewhere, he got there through books. Growing up his family didn’t have a lot of money. Yountz and his mother would go to the library where he would spend hours escaping into books. When he came across a book about clowns and the circus, Yountz knew he had found something special. He told his mother he was going to be a clown. After attending Appalachian State University, Yountz fulfilled his childhood ambition and attended Clown College.

    He spent years traveling the world and performing as a clown in the circus. He has performed for Disney, on Comedy Central and Fox News among other TV and radio programs. Today, Yountz travels and works doing motivational speaking and comedy shows. For Yountz, the key to it all is making people laugh, lighten up and enjoy their lives, he said.

    “I got my start in a library, that’s where I discovered the circus,” Yountz said. “I want to share that with others.”

    Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

  • Pageant will again kick off 4th of July festivities

    By Jonathan E. Coleman
    [email protected]
    With the town’s 4th of July celebrations right around the corner, many local ladies are preparing for the Harrisburg 4th of July pageant.

    After last year’s event at Central Cabarrus High School, pageant director Melissa Shoupe decided to bring the event closer to the heart of Harrisburg.

    This year’s pageant, weather permitting, will be held on the lawn behind Town Hall. According to Shoupe, the laid-back atmosphere will suit the general nature of the event.

    “This is a home-town pageant,” she said. “It doesn’t lead to anything further in the pageant system. You get to represent the community with pride, but without all the hoopla. It’s just a fun pageant.”

    Those planning to attend the event and cheer on their favorite contestants are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs, and if they wish, a picnic, to the event, which will take place Saturday, July 2 at 6 p.m.

    And this year’s event will allow beauty queens of all ages to compete.

    For the first time in the pageant’s four-year history, the event will include a “Mrs. Harrisburg” title, for married women 18 and older.

    “There are so many moms that want their daughters to be in a pageant because they couldn’t be in a pageant when they were kids,” Shoupe said. “I’m trying to let them fulfill their dreams of being in a pageant.”

    Other age categories include “Baby Miss” for zero to two-year olds, “Tiny Miss” for three to four-year-olds, “Mini Miss” for five to six-year-olds, “Little Miss” for seven to nine-year-olds, “Junior Miss” for 10 to 12-year-olds, “Teen Miss” for 13 to 15-year-olds and “Miss” for 16 and older unmarried contestants.

    Contestants will compete in a beauty portion and a patriotic sportswear segment. During the sportswear competition, contestants ages seven and older will be asked an interview question. There is also an optional photogenic category of competition.

    A five-judge panel will rate each contestant based on their attire, facial expression/beauty, stage presence, modeling and poise.

    “This pageant is great for first-time girls that have never been in a pageant and for girls who have been in pageants all their lives,” Shoupe said. “It’s an equal field. You can wear Sunday best dress. You don’t have to purchase a dress that costs thousands of dollars. We judge the girl and not just the dress.”

    Despite the laid-back nature of the event, winning is something special, Shoupe added.

    Winners from each age group will receive a crown, sash, trophy and $50 savings bond. The group will participate in the Harrisburg 4th of July parade and be introduced on stage during the festival at Harrisburg Park.

    During the year, there are several social opportunities that winners are also encouraged to attend.

    Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.

  • The ultimate fighting sport

    By Jonathan E. Coleman
    [email protected]
    The biggest surprise for Jim Carey as he finished his Ruckus in the Cage ultimate fighting title match in Roanoke, Va. wasn’t the strength of his opponent or the amount of energy he needed for the three-round bout.

    It was a hug from his mother and sister as he exited the cage after his fight.

    “I told them not to come,” Carey said. “It’s bad luck.”

    But Carey, 33, didn’t need luck. After two and a half years of training, the 145-pound fighter was ready, physically and mentally. It was a day he’d prepared long and hard for.

    “I knew I had one the first two rounds,” Carey said of the three-round title match. “I knew I just had to not lose in the third round.”

    And, despite being exhausted, Carey outlasted his opponent to claim the title.

    Carey was one of five amateur ultimate fighters who train together at the Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu training network in Harrisburg to fight.

    Viewed by some as a blood sport, ultimate fighting has become increasingly popular in recent years, and with new rules to curb the brutality the sport continues to gain national appeal.image
    Not everyone, however, has been so quick to jump on the bandwagon.

    “Some people say, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing that,’” said Hallie Hair, known to most as “Snake.” “But if you train for it, it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s not a bar fight, swinging wild like you’re in the streets. We just do it for the fun of it, to keep in shape.”

    A master of Jiu Jitsu, Royce Grace started the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a professional organization of fighters.

    “He was basically trying to figure out which martial arts form was the best one to learn as far as real-life fighting,” Hair said. “When it first came out, there were basically no rules to it.”

    Eventually, as to sport developed, so too did its rules, and the competition.

    “Now the sport has grown so much, you’ve got to know it all,” Hair said. “When you learn the game, it’s a fast-paced chess match. You have to be able to think and move at the same time.”

    And to be the best, you have to train.

    Hair, who trained Carey and the four other fighters – Ray Halstead, Mike Kogan, Jason Lineberger and Adam Jetton – worked with them for about three hours a day, five days a week for the last six weeks before heading to Virginia.

    But the success was well worth it. In addition to Carey’s win, Jetton won his bout, making him the number one contender. As number one contender, he can next challenge the title-holder in his weight class for the top spot.

    Perhaps when Carey returns to the ring to defend his title, he’ll extend the invitation to his family to join him ringside.

    Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.

  • Summer fun for all ages

    With school out for the summer, parents can now consider some of the many social and recreational options to entertain their children over the next several months

    School’s out, and Thursday marks the official start of summer.

    With that in mind, some parents are likely scrambling to make last minute plans for how their children will spend those precious weeks between the family’s vacation and the children’s return to school in August.

    This summer, Harrisburg youth and their parents are in luck. As the town continues to grow, so too do its options for summer programs for children and teens.

    Today, there are so many different options for youth of all ages and reaching across a wide range of interests, from academic to athletic. 

    From Harrisburg Youth Athletic Association sports to Spanish or crocheting classes offered through the parks & recreation department to the summer reading program at the library and church bible schools, there are no shortages of opportunities for area children to continue learning and growing, even when they’re not in a classroom reading from a textbook.

    There are several YMCA camps and Upward Sports Ministry programs, not to mention bible schools offered at most churches.

    These opportunities not only provide our youth with a chance to further their education, in some cases without them realizing that they’re learning, but they also provide an opportunity for social interaction with other youth sharing their interests, an equally important aspect of their development.

    We at Harrisburg Horizons will do our best to bring you up-to-date information on these programs to help you plan ahead.

    We recognize the efforts of the many organizers and planners from across the community who have made these various offerings available.

    We hope all of our readers have safe and enjoyable summers, and that you’ll make the most of all the options available.

    Jonathan E. Coleman

  • Bobcats’ Morrison recovering from difficult rookie year

    AP Sports Writer

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Adam Morrison couldn’t take it anymore.

    Heckled all night as he sat on the bench in street clothes in Miami, nursing a sore knee, the Charlotte Bobcats rookie turned to a fan behind the bench _ the one who kept calling him “white trash” _ and made an obscene gesture.

    That moment in a meaningless late-season game was the boiling point in a disappointing year. Weighed down by the pressure of being the No. 3 pick in the draft and a role model for youngsters with diabetes, Morrison struggled. He averaged 11.8 points but shot only 38 percent, playing with a body not quite ready for the rigors of an 82-game schedule.

    “It was a little difficult at times not being able to perform like I wanted to and kind of hearing the whispers and whatnot,” Morrison said Monday. “But that comes with being a high draft pick. I’m just looking forward to this year and getting a new start, turning over a new leaf.”

    Starting over was something Morrison kept bringing up during a telephone interview from Washington, where he is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday to urge for more federal funding for diabetes research. Morrison acknowledged he couldn’t wait for last season to end.

    “Just to clear my head and get back to basics,” Morrison said.

    Morrison made the NBA’s all-rookie second team, but his numbers _ and patience _ declined late in the season. Morrison had nine games of 22 or more points in the first two months of the season, but only two in the final 3 ½ months. He was moody and avoided reporters.

    Never known as a good defender, the former Gonzaga star _ who led the nation in scoring in 2005-06 _ saw his playing time diminish. There were whispers that his Type 1 diabetes was wearing him down.

    “I was fatigued, but I don’t want to say it was because of diabetes,” said Morrison, who shot 34 percent from 3-point range. “Every rookie kind of goes through that. You play 30-something games throughout your whole college career and 20-something in high school, then you jump to 82. So for me, I think it was just my body not being used to it.”

    Then-coach Bernie Bickerstaff wasn’t concerned with Morrison’s diabetes, but rather his strength. Morrison was sent home to Spokane, Wash. with a conditioning and strength program to follow. Morrison hired a strength coach and has been working out with him four days a week.

    “We need him to come back and really kind of establish himself at the beginning of the season,” new coach Sam Vincent said late last week. “We’re hoping that he’s really going to take it serious and come really focused to give us what we need this year.”

    Vincent said that either he or an assistant coach would fly to Spokane this summer to check on Morrison. But Morrison saved the Bobcats on airfare when he agreed to take part in the team’s rookie camp and play on the Bobcats’ summer league team.

    When that’s over on July 13, Morrison plans to stay in Charlotte _ where he recently bought a home _ for the rest of the summer.

    “It will be good for me to learn his system and his style of coaching and how they want to move the organization forward,” Morrison said of Vincent. “He seems like a really nice guy. He seems really motivated.”

    The shaggy-haired Morrison, fined $25,000 for the incident in Miami, knows he’ll be the subject of taunts throughout his career. He just hopes he can quiet the visiting crowds with his game _ like he did in college.

    “I’m disappointed in how I performed, shooting percentage-wise,” Morrison said. “I had some good games, a good start to the season. If I could just get my percentage up a little bit, the points will go up.

    “I want to make sure I’m ready to go for next season. I look at it as a new beginning I guess.”

  • Delhomme, Panthers sprint away from 2006

    AP Sports Writer

    Jake Delhomme stopped in front of a group of reporters, helmet at his side, panting.

    Minutes after running five gassers Thursday to wrap up three weeks of optional workouts, the Carolina Panthers quarterback was exhausted — and happy.

    “Without a doubt, this is by far the best summer camp we’ve ever had,” said Delhomme as sweat dripped from his brow. “The energy, the enthusiasm, the things we’re doing, and it’s not just me trying to give it window dressing. Players are saying it. Players feel it.”

    The 2006 season still eats at Delhomme and the Panthers. The trendy pick in the preseason to reach the Super Bowl, they stumbled to 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Mistake-prone, Delhomme received the most criticism since he became the starter in 2003 and led Carolina to the Super Bowl.

    “If you’re a prideful person, and you play the way we did last year, you should be ashamed,” Delhomme said. “If you have a big ego like everybody on this team does — and rightfully so, you just have to harness it — the ego should have been crushed after last year.”

    It’s why Delhomme believes players worked so hard during the optional workouts. Everybody, except for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, attended.

    “The three weeks we had here is crucial for the offense and the defense to get to know each other better,” defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu said.

    It was a busy time. New offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson installed his new system. The top two draft picks — linebacker Jon Beason and receiver Dwayne Jarrett — got acclimated to their new teammates. Linebacker Dan Morgan continued his comeback from multiple concussions.

    The Panthers also spent time bonding off the field. They rode in stock cars and played paintball. Delhomme was one of five players who visited owner Jerry Richardson’s lake house.

    Richardson zipped around the practice field in a golf cart Thursday, adding to the sense of determination — and urgency — around the team.

    “Everybody was disappointed about last season,” coach John Fox said. “Our fans, but nobody was more disappointed than the players and coaches. We came back from this offseason with a vengeance.”

    It was apparent late in the final workout, when players did a series of sprints across the field. In years past they’ve done four gassers, but this time they did five. And everybody participated, from stars like receiver Steve Smith and defensive end Julius Peppers to the undrafted rookies.

    Delhomme struggled his way through the last gasser, with last year still stuck in his head.

    “We were 8-8, but it felt so much worse that that,” Delhomme said. “You go back and look at it and it should have been so much better than that. We left some games on the table. A lot of us had a lot to do with it, myself included. I’m looking forward to righting the ship this year.”

    But there are still many questions as the Panthers rest before reporting to training camp July 27.

    Jenkins, who was put on the trading block before the draft, wants a new contract and it’s unknown if he’ll report to camp.

    Tackle Travelle Wharton and defensive end Mike Rucker are still working their way back from knee injuries, and Davidson’s new offense has to find a way to get Smith the ball more.

    Morgan’s history of concussions is a concern and could force Beason into a starting role right away.

    Also, the team would like to sign tackle Jordan Gross, who is entering the final year of his contact, to a new deal before training camp.

    After Thursday’s workout, players were quick to scatter. Some will go on vacations with their families. Kemoeatu, who struggled to finish the sprints, vowed to “go on a diet.”

    They’ll return in six weeks ready to erase memories of last season.

    “Last year, things did not go our way. I know we keep saying that, but it just didn’t happen,” Delhomme said. “We have some injured guys back. We have a new system put in place offensively. We’ve got a new coach on the defensive side and a couple of new coaches on the offensive side.

    “The energy was up and it was good.”

  • Earnhardt to address driving future

    TALK BACKWhat do you think about Earnhardt joining Hendrick Motorsports? Post your comments in our forums.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to win championships, and there’s no better place to do that than at Hendrick Motorsports.

    The most frenzied free agency in NASCAR history will end Wednesday when Earnhardt reveals where he’ll drive next season, and all signs point to Rick Hendrick’s elite organization.
    NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, left, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk as they get ready to qualify at New Hampshire International Speedway Friday, Sept. 15, 2006 in Loudon, N.H.(AP Photo/Sandy Macys)

    TALK BACKWhat do you think about Earnhardt joining Hendrick Motorsports? Post your comments in our forums.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to win championships, and there’s no better place to do that than at Hendrick Motorsports.

    The most frenzied free agency in NASCAR history will end Wednesday when Earnhardt reveals where he’ll drive next season, and all signs point to Rick Hendrick’s elite organization.

    Hendrick, winner of six championships since 1995, currently fields cars for four-time champion Jeff Gordon, defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Casey Mears. With all four drivers under contract, Hendrick told The Associated Press last month he had “no room at the inn” for Earnhardt.

    But a half-dozen people familiar with the negotiations – speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because Earnhardt’s plans have not been announced – said Hendrick officials have been working for nearly three weeks to bring the star driver into the fold. There were rumblings late Monday that Busch, who is under contract through 2008, has asked to be released from his contract.

    Asked if that was true, Hendrick spokesman Jesse Essex said, “We don’t comment on contractual issues.”

    Busch was testing in Milwaukee on Tuesday and not available to comment.

    It’s unclear why the 22-year-old Busch would want to leave Hendrick, the most dominant team in NASCAR with 10 wins through 14 points races this season.

    Busch has four career victories, one this season, and made the Chase for the championship last year, finishing 10th in the standings. He’s currently 10th, but has wrecked a bunch of cars in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series, and upset his team at Texas in April when he left the track without telling anyone after an accident.

    His crew patched up the car, but with no driver to take it back on the track, asked Earnhardt to finish the race in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

    “Junior didn’t hesitate and agreed, and it was a very sportsmanlike gesture,” Alan Gustafson, Busch’s crew chief, said after the race. “It says a lot about Dale and the kind of person he is.”

    It created rampant speculation that Earnhardt was headed to Hendrick, a rumor that only intensified following his May 10 announcement he will leave his late father’s company at the end of this season. He made the announcement at his race shop, JR Motorsports, same site of Wednesday’s scheduled news conference.

    Earnhardt spokesman Mike Davis said only that the driver will announce his plans for 2008 and beyond.

    The announcement will end the frenzied free agency period that ignited a whirlwind of recruiting rarely seen in NASCAR. The last five weeks have been filled with nonstop talk regarding where Earnhardt would end up, and he’s made shop visits and met with various car owners while trying to make a decision.

    His criteria for picking a new team was finding a place he can win championships – Earnhardt has 17 career wins, but no Nextel Cup titles – and remaining in a Chevrolet.

    It cut the list of contenders to three front-runners – Hendrick, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing – and one long shot in Ginn Racing.

    The late Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships at RCR, and Gibbs has won three of the past six titles. Bobby Ginn, in his first full season as a NASCAR team owner, has transformed a midlevel team into a contender, but has no championships at his organization.

    Childress, Gibbs and Ginn expressed interest in signing Earnhardt, but Childress never seemed to aggressively pursue Junior. He traded phone messages with Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, who is handling the negotiations for her brother, and has been vacationing out of the country for the last week.

    Gibbs officials have been tightlipped about their contact with Earnhardt, but have made it clear they won’t accept Budweiser, his longtime sponsor, because of conflicts with their family values image. Then came word that Toyota is courting Gibbs, which is in the final year of its contract with General Motors. A possible manufacturer switch would certainly eliminate Gibbs from contention.

    Gibbs, reached Tuesday through his other job as coach of the Washington Redskins, declined comment. An assistant for team president J.D. Gibbs said he was away all week.

    Ginn officials, who have been ardent about their interest in Earnhardt, said Tuesday they are not involved in his announcement.

    That leaves Hendrick, who previously told AP the only interest he had in Earnhardt was an offer he had made to assist with cars and motors if the driver wanted to field his own team out of JR Motorsports. But, a week after saying he had no room for Earnhardt, Hendrick refused to answer any questions when AP asked if he’d changed his mind.

    NASCAR will only permit car owners to field four teams beginning in 2009, so Hendrick first had to find a spot on his roster to add Earnhardt. Busch asking out of his deal would create an opening, but it’s no guarantee Earnhardt will end up in the No. 5.

    It’s possible he could drive the No. 25 that Mears currently pilots, with Mears moving into the No. 5 opening. Budweiser, which is willing to follow Earnhardt to his new team, sponsored the No. 25 for Hendrick during the 1990s.

    Hendrick also has longtime ties to Earnhardt’s family. He fielded a car in 1983 for the elder Earnhardt, who drove it to a Busch Series win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That entry was co-owned by Robert Gee, who is Junior’s maternal grandfather.

    Joining Hendrick’s stable could anger Earnhardt’s rabid fan base because it will team him with Gordon, the one driver “The Red Army” generally despises. Earnhardt fans have thrown beer cans at Gordon following several of his recent wins, most notably victory No. 76, which came in April at Talladega Superspeedway and tied Gordon with the elder Earnhardt on NASCAR’s career victory list.

    Earnhardt condemned the behavior, and urged his fans to throw toilet paper instead of beer cans – to no avail.

  • From D-Day to Bastogne

    Last week, we left Mr. Ira Lee Taylor of Harrisburg on Utah Beach on the Normandy coast of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  Today we pick up his story on the following day. Taylor served in the U.S. Army’s 4th Division, Headquarters Battery – Artillery, Survey Section.
    Late in the afternoon on June 7, Taylor’s outfit joined up with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions near Ste. Mere Eglise, France. The paratroopers had dropped 10 miles inland and behind enemy lines before daylight on June 6. 
    Taylor told me something I’d never heard about the World War II paratroopers. Every one of them carried a cricket. If you were born in or before the 1950s, you know I’m talking about those little tin things you pressed with your thumb and forefinger to make a snapping noise.
    It was dark when the paratroopers landed behind German lines on D-Day and they were all scattered out. Taylor said the paratroopers would start mashing their crickets when they hit the ground so they could identify and find one another in the dark.
    Then, Taylor’s voice lowered in sadness. “I read where the Germans shot them [the paratroopers],” he said. “If their parachutes got hung up in a tree or something, they just turned a machine gun on them. And we saw, as we were going through, we saw a parachute trooper — he was hanging in a tree — and they’d set him on fire and burned all his clothes off. We saw that.
    “The Germans even booby-trapped the [American] bodies, you know. When they picked them up, they’d have a trip wire on them and it would explode.”
    All of the Normandy countryside looked alike. Taylor remembers lots of cow pastures. “But sometimes you’d move in a cow pasture and they’d be dead cows killed all around there and it was the stinkingest place!”
    From Ste. Mere Eglise, the 4th Division went to Montebourg, France. It wasn’t a big town. “In the morning it’d be ours. That night it”d be theirs [the Germans’]. The next day, it’d be theirs and that night it’d be ours.”
    I asked Taylor what happened to the people living in towns like that during the fighting. He said, “When there was a big battle going on, people moved back in the forest. They had a lot of forests over there. They moved back in the forest and stayed until that town was clear.”
    Taylor said that every time his outfit moved up, a Forward Detail was sent ahead to find a site where they could set up for the night. That’s where the Command Center would be. It seemed to Taylor that he was always on that detail.
    “I was always on that detail. But we’d go up there and pick out the spot where we were going to set up. And then we went back to the Battery outfit and led them back. The boys would say, ‘How is it? How is it up there?’ We’d say, ‘Boy, it’s hot as a firecracker! Hot as a firecracker! We’d get them scared,” he said with a laugh.
    Taylor has a healthy respect for anyone who served in the Infantry. He said, “If you’re ever going to join the Army and you’re trying to figure out what outfit to join, don’t join the Infantry! Don’t join the Infantry because they’re under everything — small arms fire, hand grenades, artillery… They’re on the front lines.”
    “We always set up close behind the Infantry,” Taylor said.  “We kept communications with all the Artillery.” Every time they moved up, the wire section lay wire to the Battery. 
    The wire section operated a switchboard around the clock.  There was also a radio section, a kitchen section, and a survey section.
    From Montebourg, the 4th Division went to the deep water port of Cherbourg, France. “We ran into a whole horse-drawn German outfit,” Taylor said. “Everything was pulled by horses — great big old draft horses, you know — beautiful things, and the Air Corps and the Artillery caught them on that wide open road and annihilated them.”
    After Cherbourg, they went into “the Hedgerow country.” Taylor said there were fields of one acre, two acres and some 20 acres and they were all laid out in the same way with a ditch on three sides and the other side open. The ditches were large and flat in the bottom, which gave the American soldiers some good places to sleep at night.  “We called it ‘The Howard Hilton Hotel,’” Taylor said.  “That was a set up. You didn’t have to worry about digging a foxhole.”
    In the Hedgerow country, Taylor said there were many apple orchards and pastures without fences. He saw lots of cows and horses in the countryside. 
    Next, was the French town of St. Lo., where Taylor’s outfit set up for nearly two weeks. They could hear tanks rumbling night and day. A staging area was being set up. After nearly two weeks of constantly hearing tanks moving, the troops knew there was going to be a big battle.
    “Patton’s 3rd Army was there with all his tanks,” Taylor said. “And after everything got in place, we had 3,000 heavy and light bombers right in that area in front of us. It took them all morning to drop those bombs, and we were so close to them. I think we were about 1,000 feet behind where they were dropping them. The ground just quivered all morning long… Well, when they dropped all those bombs, there was so much dust and smoke in the air, the last bombers couldn’t see what they were doing, and they dropped them on our own troops. They killed a whole bunch of people.”
    When Taylor’s outfit moved up, they were sent through an open field. “I did not see a thing alive!” he said.
    After the war, Taylor read about the French Resistance Movement in the St. Lo area.  An 18-year-old woman was a leader in The Resistance. She and other women rode bicycles everywhere. The German sentries paid no attention to them.
    At night, the women would ride their bicycles and find German Army trucks, crawl under them, let the oil out of the axles, and replace the oil with an abrasive powder. This tore up the whole front end of a truck as soon as it was cranked up the next morning. 
    Taylor’s next stop was Paris.  “We were supposed to go south of Paris and cross some river there,” he said. “And I believe it was the French 2nd Army Division that was supposed to take Paris… We ran into them… and those Frenchmen had those tanks going up the road there a-hollering and a-shouting. Man, we said, ‘Boys, just wait.  Just wait till you get in Paris! Those Germans will straighten you out!’
    “And so they got into Paris and they had to pull us out and send us to Paris because they got bogged down and the Germans were beating the tar out of them,” Taylor said.
    After Paris was liberated, Taylor’s outfit set up in a big park about a mile from the city.
    They stayed in that park for three weeks. In the evenings, when there wasn’t anything to do, the GIs would sit on the curb and watch the people. 
    Taylor remembers crossing the Seine River and seeing Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower, although the tower was stripped down during the war.
    The most shocking part of French culture Taylor saw was men using the bathroom in front of women at designated places on the sidewalk. He said the American GIs never got used to seeing that.
    Taylor said the French people live in little villages. He said they don’t live scattered throughout the countryside like people do here. He found Germany to be the same way.
    Cow stables were connected to farm houses in France. If a house had a basement, the cows would be down there. The houses all faced the street. Each house had a cement enclosure in which to put manure. By summer, the manure piles were fairly large. Taylor said, “We’d go through some of those towns in July and August and it would take your breath!”
    Taylor had a couple of close calls in the war. One day in Normandy, he and the other men had parked their truck under a tree in an apple orchard and covered it with camouflage net. No sooner had Taylor walked out in the orchard, across a ditch, and to a little knoll than he heard a German fighter plane, strafing.
    “I looked up and saw him and, man, I hit the ground there,” he said. You just automatically hit the ground if you heard artillery or anything coming. You don’t think; you just land flat on your stomach. That thing came right over me and those bullets were kicking up dirt about eighteen inches on the side of me! 
    “And I said, ‘Well, he’s gone now.’ And that bugger went on down and turned around. He came right back… I was so addled, I didn’t know whether he’d hit me or not. I just lay there. I was scared to reach back there, you know, to see if I could find any blood. 
    “I finally got nerve enough to reach back there and I didn’t find anything. It took me a long time to get over that. I could feel my hair standing straight up.”
    From France, Mr. Taylor’s outfit moved into Belgium. One poignant moment near Waregem, Belgium was when they came to Flanders Field. The Flanders Field American Cemetery is the final resting place for 368 American soldiers who died in World War I. “Well, we were going through Flanders Field — we were moving up — and it was just acres, acres, acres, and they [the poppies] were in full bloom,” he said. “Every one of them was in bloom and there was a light breeze blowing and it just looked like an ocean wave. 
    “We stopped in our trucks and looked… We saw a monument over there — a 4th Division monument — World War I. And that was close to the beach.We just couldn’t get over the cemetery, though. I tell you it was so well-kept.”
    But next came Bastogne, Belgium. “That’s where we got surrounded,” Taylor said. “We’re going to run into the biggest tank battle there ever was, I reckon!”
    As Taylor’s outfit entered Bastogne after the battle, there was nothing but rubble from the bombs. “Every field and road was covered with German and American tanks,” he said. “I mean, there were hundreds of them!”
    His convoy stopped and some of the soldiers got out of their trucks to investigate the wreckage of tanks. “That was the most American tanks I’d ever seen that were knocked out,” Taylor said. 
    Look for the “Did You Know?” column in two weeks to follow Ira Lee Taylor from Bastogne to V-E Day and back home to Harrisburg.


    Interviews with Mr. Ira Lee Taylor, February 24 and March 2, 2007, and telephone conversation on May 18, 2007

  • YMCA gets summer started with camp

    By Christie Barlow
    [email protected]
    The Harrisburg Family YMCA has started construction on another project: Its campers.
    Kids attending Harrisburg YMCA summer camp are a part of this year’s summer camp campaign, “Campers Under Construction.”
    “Our job is to help children grow through developing good character traits,” said Angie Kiln, the on-site coordinator for Harrisburg Family YMCA’s summer camp. “Caring, honesty, responsibility, respect and faith are the five core values of the YMCA.”
    As campers learn and demonstrate those values, they are awarded with beads, and ultimately a bandanna, Kiln said. Though they are helping campers reach their goals, the YMCA summer camp is a lot more than just learning lessons — campers get to have fun.
    Averaging around 60 campers a week, the Harrisburg YMCA meets at New Harvest Church on Hickory Ridge Road. The camp features arts and crafts, sports, games and lots of field trips, Kiln said. Kiln, who is responsible for organizing the activities, has scheduled at least one field trip each week, all of which are related to the week’s theme.
    Kiln and the campers kicked the first week of camp off with a “Catch the wave” theme, welcoming campers with a lei and beach related activities. This weeks activities included everything from volleyball with a beach ball, to sand art, a treasure hunt and, the highlight of the week, a trip to the Splash Pad in Kannapolis.
    “It’s a great kick off,” Kiln said. “Kids are excited about being out of school. This week they’ll do a lot of water related activities.”
    For their part, campers were excited to get into the swing of camp. Sammie Mascaro has been attending YMCA summer camp in Harrisburg for two years and said the best part about it is making new friends. With the new location at New Harvest Church, Mascaro is looking forward to spending more time outside this year.
    “Last year we stayed inside and laid down and played a lot of board games,” Mascaro said. “This year we get to stay outside and play games. We get to do a lot more activities.”
    With the new location at New Harvest Church, the Harrisburg facility does face some challenges some of the other YMCAs don’t face, Kiln said. Being off site has its ups and downs, she said. The church can’t hold as many campers as West Cabarrus or Kannapolis YMCAs, but the smaller camp can enhance the experience for campers, Kiln said. Although Harrisburg doesn’t have a pool on location, they travel to the West Cabarrus branch of the YMCA to swim a couple of times each week, said Elizabeth Lindsey, managing director of the Harrisburg Family YMCA.
    In addition to the weekly trip to the pool, campers will get a chance to visit Cici’s Pizza and make their own pizza, visit a science program in Winston-Salem and Lindsey and Kiln are planning a night for parents and campers to wrap up the 10 weeks of camp.
    This year marks the first time the YMCA has a permanent presence in Harrisburg while operating its summer camp, although the YMCA has ran a summer camp in Harrisburg for several years. Lindsey said the permanent presence in Harrisburg has increased the number of Harrisburg campers.
    Lindsey is hoping that the continued presence of the YMCA in Harrisburg will get more people involved in the programs the YMCA offers and interested in things like summer camp.
    “This is the first year I’ve been involved with a summer day camp,” Lindsey said. “It’s been really exciting and also a learning experience to see it all evolve. (Camp) is a fun filled, non-stop, high energy day of activities.”
    • Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

  • Student gets chance of a lifetime to travel, learn

    By Jonathan E. Coleman
    [email protected]
    Almost everyone has received something in the mail that says, “Congratulations, you’ve won…” Usually there are all sorts of strings attached or hoops to jump through for the recipient to claim the prize.
    But when 11-year-old William Bloomfield got a similar letter in the mail, it was no gimmick.
    The rising sixth grader at J.N. Fries Middle School was nominated and selected to be a People to People Student Ambassador as part of a three-week trip to Italy and Greece.
    The People to People program was established in 1956, when then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower created it with the mission of bringing peace through “personal exchanges and firsthand experiences with other cultures,” according to the program’s Web site.
    Bloomfield is the only student from Cabarrus County chosen to take part in this summer’s student ambassador program, and will join 25 other youth from across the country for the trip, which is scheduled for June 21-July 10.
    “It feels really good (being nominated),” Bloomfield said. “There was like 500 people and only 26 of us made it. I’m really excited.”
    While many people haven’t heard of the People to People program, it wasn’t completely new to Bloomfield. His cousin went last year to Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
    “That’s where we thought the nomination came from (William’s cousin),” Bloomfield’s mother, Beverly said. “But she said she didn’t nominate him.”
    While the Bloomfields still don’t know who nominated William for the trip, they have gotten some good advice from his cousin about making the most of the experience.
    “She said take lots of pictures,” William said. “That’s the main thing. I talked to some other kids and they said don’t over pack.”
    To further help prepare for the trip, William has met several times with some of the other youth and leaders who will be traveling with him.
    While Bloomfield admitted to being perhaps being most excited about the food, he’s also looking forward to the many educational opportunities he’ll have while on the trip, some of which, he added, have to do with food.
    “I’m going to bake a pizza. I’m going to Crete and Sicily. I’m going to the Roman coliseum. On the fifth day we get to go to a water park.”
    The educational component is a big part of the trip, Beverly said, but so too is the friendships he’ll build with the other youth.
    “It’s a lifetime opportunity that will follow him forever,” she said.
    And one that will almost certainly leave him with memories and stories to tell his family and friends when he returns.
    “My grandparents have traveled all around the world, but they’ve never been to Italy and Greece,” he said. “A lot of 11-year-olds don’t even get to travel around the states, much less to another country.”

    • Contact Jonathan E Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.

  • Congratulations seniors

    With graduation behind them, high school seniors have much to look forward to; we wish them well, hope they’ll take time to thank those who helped them along the way

    Graduations are always momentous, marking a student’s completion of years of hard work and his or her transition into a new phase of life.
    As I watched hundreds of seniors march across the stage at Monday’s graduation exercises, I couldn’t help but imagine the achievements this year’s senior class will make as they leave their high school careers behind and set out on an entirely new course.
    The possibilities are, quite frankly, endless.
    I hope for all the graduates that the closing chapter of their high school careers does not mark the end of their education. In whatever your futures hold, be it heading off to college, joining the work force or serving our country in the military, I hope each of you makes an effort to be a life-long learner.
    Knowledge is a powerful tool, and one that can offer limitless possibilities. I hope that you’ll never be satisfied and always strive to learn more.
    I hope, too, that you’ll take time in the next few days and weeks to say ‘thank you’ to the many people who helped you along the way. I was moved by the support of parents, teachers, friends and family at each commencement exercise, and imagine that to be only a small portion of the network of support that each of you received over the years.
    You would be surprised at how much a few words of appreciation would mean to them.
    Lastly, I want to wish you well in whatever course you choose. We at Harrisburg Horizons very much enjoy the time we’ve spent at both Central Cabarrus and Robinson covering sporting events, academic and service clubs and getting to know many of you. We are proud to have been able to bring your stories to the community and to have had the opportunity to get to know many of you.
    We hope that you’ll make the most of whatever summer break you have, and as the next chapter of your lives begin, you’ll find great success and happiness.

    Jonathan E Coleman

  • Discovery Place presents the ABCs of chemistry

    By Christie Barlow
    [email protected]
    Scientific equipment and minds are going to be on hand at the Harrisburg library on Thursday.
    Discovery Place presents ABC Chemistry will take over the library from 10 a.m. until noon, performing experiments and giving kids a chance to get involved in some of the action.
    The first of two programs begins at 10 a.m. and is for children ages pre-kindergarten to kindergarten. The second program begins at 11 a.m. and is for children grades 1 to 5.
    This program seeks to get kids involved in and excited about science, said Ashley Dumond, who works in the Science Reach department at Discovery Place.
    “A kids’ job is really to explore and learn,” Dumond said. “That’s what they do everyday. When they play and explore that’s their experiment, they just don’t realize it.”
    Having kids learn without realizing is one of the keys to programs like this, Dumond said. The ABC program tailors its experiments around poems so kids are laughing and having fun.
    They present kids with a problem in rhyme, then ask them to help figure out a solution to the problem.
    In an experiment where participants make glue from milk, they’re told, ’Greta ran out of glue for Grandma,’ Dumond said. The poems are used to help walk kids through the scientific process, she said.
    If the kids were at Discovery Place they would learn by doing, Dumond said.
    These programs are so interactive because if you can get kids excited and having fun that’s the key to getting them to explore and wonder, Dumond said. Dumond hopes that when kids are done with the program they will have a better understanding of chemistry and be really excited about science.
    “It’s great when a kid says, ‘Because of your program I was able to get every question right on Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader,’ or ‘Because of your class I got every question right on my test,’ ” Dumond said. “It’s worth it when you have an impact and help.”
    Discovery Place has done around 20 shows at the Harrisburg library, said Pat Lowder, a member of the library staff. They offer a wide variety of programs and you can always expect a good show, she said.
    Lowder attributes the quality of the programs and the preparation of the presenters for Discovery Places success at the Harrisburg library.
    “It’s a great program to have for all ages,” Lowder said. “It covers a wide variety of things for a wide variety of ages.”
    • Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

  • New dance studio opens

    By Christie Barlow
    [email protected]
    While most 18-year-olds are worried about making friends their freshmen year of college, Kelly O’Shea was hunting for locations and building up clientele to open her own dance studio.
    After 18 years of hard work, O’Shea was faced with a tough decision. Stay in New York and continue to run her dance studio, made up of more than 200 students, or move to North Carolina and start over again.
    Two years ago O’Shea found herself in Concord and set to work building another dance studio. It didn’t take long for her to collect a dedicated group, but she wasn’t gaining the number of students she wanted. Again, she packed her bags and went in search of another location. She found the perfect spot in Harrisburg and intends to stay put.
    On N.C. 49 next to the Circle K gas station and across the street from A.J.’s Restaurant, Kelly O’Shea’s Performing Arts Studio has been hard at work creating the kind of environment O’Shea is used to. O’Shea’s studio, previously a welding shop, underwent a complete makeover. The studio contains a waiting room for parents, a kitchen area, a tumbling room, a free weight area and a mirrored studio.
    “It’s been a tough road, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” O’Shea said. “Harrisburg has been my hero.”
    O’Shea offers classes for everyone from two-year-olds to adults, in every level of experience and just about every style of dance. She teaches jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical and hip-hop classes, offers tumbling, is a certified trainer and will soon be offering vocal lessons.
    Since moving to the Harrisburg location around two months ago, O’Shea has seen the number of students in her studio increase dramatically. Many of the students she taught in Concord made the move to the Harrisburg studio with her, but O’Shea said in two months she has added around 20 students.
    O’Shea prides herself on making her studio a welcoming environment. One of the most important aspects of her studio is that she has a hand in teaching every class that’s offered. O’Shea wants to build relationships with her students and make the studio a place where they feel at home.
    “I want it to be one big happy family,” O’Shea said. “I believe in kids having fun and making friends, but they’re going to walk out of here sweating and having learned something.”
    That’s exactly the feeling that Valerie Eaton and Brooke and Blair Lucas had after joining O’Shea’s studio two years ago. The girls started lessons with O’Shea in Concord and made the switch to her new studio.
    “It’s basically a home a way from home,” Eaton said. “I’ve tried so many dance studios, as soon as I came here, I said ’Mom, we’re not looking anywhere else.’ ”
    It’s not uncommon for Eaton or the Lucas’ to come to the studio after school and stay until 9 p.m. O’Shea has a passion for dancing that makes her fun to be around, Brooke said.
    O’Shea is putting that passion to work with several big plans for July. In mid-July she’ll host a summer camp themed around the performing arts and will also host a “So you want to dance” competition on July 28.
    Dancers will give two-minute auditions and O’Shea and a panel of judges will pick the winners. There will be two winners, each of whom will be awarded a dance scholarship to O’Shea’s studio.
    “Some parents can’t afford to get their kids into dance, some haven’t gotten around to it,” O’Shea said. “This is a way to help kids who have talent but have got to use it.”
    • Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

  • Senior Games all-stars

    Harrisburg seniors shine in county competition, head to North Carolina Senior Games

    By Christie Barlow
    [email protected]
    Harrisburg will be well represented when its residents head to Raleigh to compete in the State Senior Games competition.
    So far, around 47 Cabarrus County competitors have signed up to make the trip, said Joan Swaringen, the aging programs coordinator for the Cabarrus County Department of Aging. Last year 60 Cabarrus County residents competed in the games, and Swaringen expects this year’s number to continue to increase, she said.
    Swaringen said many residents go to Raleigh even though they aren’t competing. They go to events to cheer on their friends, Swaringen said.
    This year, those who are competing will participate in everything from spin casting, to golf and comedy performances. So far Mike and Malli Plowman, Mary Gilmer, Bill and Mary Caudle, Sylvia Lowder and Phil Lovelace will compete in Raleigh.
    For Mike and Malli the senior games are a chance to hang out with friends and put their love of fishing into practice. This year both the Plowmans won their individual spin casting events and represent Cabarrus County at the state competition.
    “The competition is fun,” said Malli. “It’s great seeing all the energy that people in their 80s and 90s have. They’re still out there having fun.”
    In spin casting, competitors try to land the weight on the end of their fishing line in a box placed 30, 40 or 50 feet away. They score points based on how close they get to the box. Even though the Plowmans are competing in Raleigh, their main focus is on enjoying the time they get to spend with friends. Neither Mike nor Malli are concerned with the outcome of their event, they said.
    “We love being around all our friends,” Malli said. “We love going to Raleigh and the opening ceremonies is so much fun. It’s like the senior equivalent of spring break.”
    Mary Gilmer is also heading to Raleigh for the competition, where she will perform in the large comedy division. This is Glimers’ fourth time attending the competition in Raleigh and she has been part of the Senior Games since they first started in Cabarrus County.
    Gilmer and several other ladies wear white body suits and leggings and brightly colored tutus to perform a dance to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.” Their performance has them dancing around with an oversized bumblebee and audiences laughing, said Gilmer. The group took the best in show award to qualify for the competition in Raleigh.
    “I was so surprised I almost had a heart attack,” Gilmer said about the win.
    Gilmer said she hopes her group performs well at the state competition, but is really looking forward to the camaraderie the competition brings. Swaringen said most of those who compete share a similar attitude with Gilmer and the Plowmans. The Cabarrus County group is more focused on having fun than winning. She said they’re one of the liveliest bunches in Raleigh.
    “People know when Cabarrus County shows up because they have more fun when they get there,” Swaringen said.
    • Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

  • Jump start your credit—Part II

    Felicia Dixon Ward

    Here is a quick recap from part I of this two part article:
    According to the United States Chamber of Commerce Statistics and Research Center these are some of the following factors, which affect credit approval:

    • Business Owners Race
    8 percent
    • Business Owners Gender
    10 percent
    • Lender Size
    20 percent
    • Business Plan
    37 percent *
    • Financial Stmt. Issues
    43 percent
    • Amount Requested
    54 percent
    • Age of Business
    56 percent
    • Annual Revenue
    62 percent
    • Current Business Debt
    64 percent
    • Business Owners’ Credit
    88 percent

    *African Americans 47 percent, Asian Americans 42 percent and Hispanic Americans 33 percent.

    Out of all the factors in the statistical data considered, business owners’ personal credit was the highest factor for consideration for credit approval. 
    Part II of this article deals with establishing credit for your business. If your personal credit is in the process of being restored you can still receive credit for your business ventures. The information applies to businesses established as a corporation. 
    If your business is not a corporation your commercial credit will be based on your personal credit file.
    Most commercial accounts are separated from your personal credit history. Commercial business accounts can help the small business owner finance certain business products and services necessary in starting and running their business.
    Commercial creditors normally want the business to be established at a minimum of six months. If the business is less than two years it may require a personal guaranty. Commercial creditors use companies such as Dun and Bradstreet (http://www.dnb.com) to check your business account status. Equifax business has the same commercial credit services.
    Dun and Bradstreet and Equifax are the business equivalent of personal credit. So, it is important if the business owners already have commercial credit accounts to keep the accounts current and in good standing. A Paydex Score (rating system) of 80 is excellent. This means the business accounts are paid timely per the commercial account agreement.
    Dun and Bradstreet is a paid a service, which means you as the business owner must pay Dun and Bradstreet to establish your commercial credit account file. Equifax is not a paid service the information is automatically added to a file once the business has commercial credit accounts. Your commercial credit information is added to Equifax if the subscriber (commercial creditor) uses Equifax Business Services.
    However, most companies use Dun and Bradstreet to check commercial business account status. You do not have to have a DnB credit file to receive commercial credit. DnB has a free service, which allows the business owner to establish/receive a Dun and Bradstreet number. A Dun and Bradstreet Number is the first step to establishing a DnB account but remember it will cost you to establish an actual business credit file.
    Recap to establishing commercial credit:

    1. Free Federal Id Number http://www.IRS.Gov
    2. Establish a bank account
    3. Establish a free Dun and Bradstreet Number http://www.DNB.com
    4. Corporations commercial accounts will be based on the business not the business owner.

    Listed are a few commercial creditors to assist you in establishing business credit without a personal guarantee. Some of these creditors will allow you start building credit the moment you have a Federal Id Number. Each creditor has specific requirements.

    1. Nebs Office Supplies
    2. Kinkos Commercial Account
    3. ExxonMobil Business Card
    4. BP Corporate Business Solutions Mastercard
    5. Office Max Business Credit
    6. Lowes Business Credit
    7. Staples Business Credit
    8. JC Penney Commercial Account
    9. Office Depot Business Credit
    10. Home Expo Commercial Credit
    11. Home Depot MasterCard
    12. Home Depot Commercial Credit
    13. Shell Business Gas Card
    14. Sunoco Business Gas Card
    15. Midas
    16. Tiger Direct-Technology Products.
    17. Tiffany & Co.
    18. Phillip 66 Conoco 76
    19. Dell Financial Services
    20. Best Buy for Business
    21. Marathon Fleet Card (Gas Card)

    If you have any questions please send and email to [email protected] or visit http://www.assetsrecovery.net. You may call Felicia at 704-454-7664.