CSS Neuse gently moves into new Queen Street home
Guy Smith surely was looking down from heaven to see his passionate dream come true Saturday (June 23, 2012) as the Confederate's CSS Neuse ironclad was gently installed in its new home the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center, 100 N. Queen Street in Kinston. The new climate controlled museum, presumably, will be the fourth but final resting place for huge Civil War relic.
Morris Bass, operations manager for Kinston's historic sites, answers questions from bystanders as the first of three sections of the CSS Neuse rolls smoothly into its new home. Clusters of onlookers along Vernon Avenue and Queen Street were amazed at how efficiently the 109 tons of boat, in three peices, rolled from one location to the final stop.
In many ways, Smith—who was site manager for the CSS Neuse State Historic Site and Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial—was the heartbeat of a multi-year campaign to move the gunboat from a termporary open air shelter at the Vernon Avenue historic site to a new and enclosed downtown museum. Cancer took his life just a few weeks before the dramatic Saturday morning move. He played a central role with a devoted local advocacy group including former City Planner Tommy Lee and current chair of the group John Marston. Smith was also the pivot man with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and colleague Keith Hardison, director of the Division of Historic Sites and Properties.
The new home will allow limited visitation for the vessel by end of the summer. The vessel and related installations will be ready for full-scale tourism by the summer of 2013, according to Hardison.
Downtown impact of bridge closures and other projects to be reviewed in July 11 town hall meeting
Pride of Kinston is convening a town hall meeting at 8:00am, July 11 to alert downtown merchants and businesses what to expect when the South Queen bridges over the Neuse River are replaced, a project slated to begin in 2014. The meeting will take place at the Kinston-Lenoir County Public Library at 510 North Queen Street.
Officials from the NC Department of Transportation (DOT), the Lenoir County Transportation Committee and other local leaders will lead discussions regarding bridge construction, timing, and concessions which DOT has made to ease the impact that the bridge closures will have on downtown business.
Traffic which normally enters and leaves Kinston over the Neuse River South Queen bridges will be diverted to King Street bridge and Hwy. 11/55, connecting with the Hwy. 70 bypass at Skinners By Pass.
Other pending major road projects such as a proposed southern or northern by pass around the city to expedite east-west travel will also be on the agenda, according to Pride director Adrian King.
"We hope that every downtown merchant and business will have a representative at this information-gathering session," he said. The North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Lenoir County Transportation Committee are working on several substantial projects which have the potential of affecting downtown's short-term as well as long-term economy, he said.
Every one ought to be fully aware what's ahead for our town, he said, and to make plans to continue downtown's growth and vitality. "The time to plan for our future with these big projects looming is now," he added.
Downtown Kinston's future contains an oyster bar
Downtown Kinston entrepreneur Stephen Hill has amended his plans for renovating the Harvey-Brody building to include a second restaurant—an Alley Oyster Bar also offering gourmet burgers.
He disclosed his updated plans June 21, 2012 when he revealed that Bill Tsao, a member of the team running L.C. Tsao Asian Bistro, formerly the House of Wang on Vernon Avenue, has been tapped to manage an Asian Bistro in the renovated complex when it opens.
The large building, once a furniture showroom containing 28,000 square feet on two floors, is located at 212 North Queen with side entrance at 108 West North Street. Entrance to the Asian Bistro will be off North Street.
Customers will enter the oyster and burger bar through an alley off the Citizens Public Parking lot, sometimes known as the Peter Darst lot, at the corner of Gordon and Herritage Streets, according to Hill.
The huge renovation project, which earned a $200,000 Main Street Solutions Fund grant in 2011, is being conducted by Hill Realty, Inc.
To win the grant, Hill pledged to spend $1.2 million to rehab the building as a new downtown Kinston business destination.
Future potential plans include offices for Hill Realty, a spa and perhaps living spaces on the upper floor. Architect for the project is Dunn & Dalton Architects of Kinston.
Kinston to host 8th annual Naturalization and
Granting of Citizenship Ceremony July 4
Some 25 individuals from all over the world but who want to call America home will receive their citizenship here on Independence Day during the 8th annual Naturalization and Granting of Citizenship in the United States ceremony.
NEW AMERICANS: Twenty-four new US citizens who took the oath of citizenship in Kinston gather on the front porch of Harmony Hall shortly after the July 4, 2011 Naturalization and Granting of Citizenship in the US ceremony administered by a federal judge. A group of 25 will take their oaths of citizenship here July 4, 2012.
The event will be held at 10:00 AM on the grounds of historic Harmony Hall (109 East King Street), house museum owned and operated by the Lenoir County Historical Association. The public is invited to attend.
A federal court proceedings, the ceremony will be conducted by Chief Judge James C. Dever III of the North Carolina Eastern District. The historical association hosts the event every year.
US Rep. Walter Jones, who has attended every Harmony Hall naturalization ceremony since 2005, will speak at this year's event as well. Featured guest speaker will be Major General Hugh R. Overholt (USA Ret.), New Bern attorney who is also a member of the North Carolina Board of Transportation.
Downtown welcomes two new businesses
Two new businesses have opened in downtown Kinston:
LOL Wireless, located at 209 N. Queen Street, has opened to sell pre-paid cell phones served by most carriers, according to Glenwood Campbell, Jr.
Hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 am to 12 noon on Saturdays.
A variety of phones are available to suit customers' needs and desired styles.
Irie Eat's Cafe -Serving West Indian and American Dishes, 203 East Caswell Street.
Owner Lodric (Harry) Livingston says that "Irie" means "Good Food" in Jamaica. He and his wife Lorraine previously owned a popular Jamaican restaurant at the corner of Shine and Queen Streets. When Pride acquired the properties to build a new entrance into Maplewood-Cedar Grove-Hebrew cemeteries, the couple moved to new locations.
The brightly painted Caswell Street location opened a few weeks ago to serve the couple's devoted Jamaican food fans. Hours are 11:00 am to 11:00 pm Monday through Saturday.
Erasing the Lines participants erased ugly benches
Ten youthful Erasing the Lines participants marched down Queen Street Thursday (June 21, 2012) erasing 10 worn and unattractive benches along the town's main street.
ONE DOWN, 9 to go: Ten young people and their coordinator participating in Erasing the Lines spent a half a day June 21 removing 10 aging and unsightly benches along Queen Street in preparation for new seating to be installed by Pride in the future.
They undertook the project for Pride which is working with Kinston's Appearance Commission and Pride's Design Committee to replace the aging amenities. The two organizations have launched a drive to replace the 10 benches and 42 trash cans with receptacles that are more attractive.
Participating in the erasing project were:
- Austin Cooper, 17, New Bern
- McLean Piner, 15, Greenville
- December Bryant - Walker, 15, Kinston
- Jonathan Stevens, 14, Goldsboro
- Elijah Brown, 15, Kinston
- Balee Alphin, 11, La Grange
- Selena Bryant-Walker, 13, Kinston
- Aaron Grady, 16, Mount Olive
- Nilee Jones, 13, Kinston
- Jonathan Inthalunsy, 19, La Grange
- Lennie Furlough, 41, Greenville, coordinator