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Features

  • Since his days as a firefighter for the city of Lancaster, local businessman Gonzie Mackey has been in the middle of bicycle sprockets, handle bars and kickstands this time of year.

    Mackey and the brothers of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church repair and recondition used bicycles to give to children as Christmas gifts.

    But this year, it’s been a little different. Mackey said There aren’t enough bicycles to go around.

    “Last year, we had bikes lined up as far as you could see,” Mackey said.

  • The season to spend a little leisure time with family, friends and co-workers is now in full swing.

    But that also means the time to do so is at a premium. Here are a few tips and recipes to help you spend a little more time enjoying the social components of the holidays and less time preparing for it.

  • Derrick Stogner is only 14 years old.

    But when it comes to Fraser firs, he already knows more than I ever will.

    Derrick, a member of Boy Scout Troop 180 and a freshman at Buford High School, knew exactly what Ronny Faile and I were looking for when we stopped by the troop’s Christmas tree lot Tuesday evening.

    That live tree is now decked and visible from the window of Lakewood Christian Church on Kershaw Camden Highway.

  • From a technical standpoint, the color of the 2009 Christmas in Lancaster ornament is listed as pantone color No. 548.

    What does that mean?

    It means this year’s collectible tree ornament is “Founders Blue.”

    Kept a secret for almost six months, See Lancaster unveiled the ornament  at a reception Monday night at the Springs Gallery on East Gay Street.

    And as it was billed, it is indeed representative of the county’s moving from the old to the new.

  • Christmas cactuses may be in short supply at some stores this year, but they aren’t on Jean Boatright’s closed-in back porch.

    And no matter how hard her husband, Jerry, tries, he just can’t get away from them.

    Some may think Jean has gone a little overboard in her admiration of the tropical-type plants, but not Jerry. It’s just fine with him.

  • Katie McMahon has been called the “world’s most famous unknown singer.”

    That’s not an exaggeration, either.

    As the former lead vocalist for “Riverdance,” millions have heard her sing or own a video or CD featuring her voice. But very few know her by name.

    Locally, that should change after this week.

  • Cows and other livestock have become more protective of their new offspring while cattlemen say they’ve seen foot tracks similar to that of a canine. But they don’t believe stray dogs are to blame.

    They say the answer lies in the coyotes, which are being talked about more and more as local sightings increase.

    A number of Lancaster County residents have reported spotting coyotes in the area recently. However, wildlife officials say their presence is nothing new and that people should expect to continue seeing them.

  • Four Lancaster families will roll out a yuletide carpet Sunday for the Lancaster Garden Club’s 23rd annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Here is a brief glimpse at what you can see.

    Ballard focuses on comfort

    When it comes to opening the doors of his home Sunday, Realtor Casey Ballard said hopes the decorations at Meadow Drive will pass muster.

    “The time has really slipped up on us and it’s here,” Ballard said. “I guess I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be.”

  • It’s hard for LaDonna Mann to remember what life was like before she learned about the plight of thousands of orphans in the African nation of Kenya.

    As curator of the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, Mann spends her days informing the public about the varied histories of alphabets and languages. But she experienced another language firsthand several years ago while living with her late husband Bill in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

  • ‘Nuncrackers’ will crack you up

    Looking for some seasonal entertainment that will give you a good laugh?

    Then head into Fort Mill this week to see “Nuncrackers,” produced and directed by Elaine Roberts of Sun City Carolina Lakes.

    The musical comedy, which opened Dec. 3, is playing at the Fort Mill Community Playhouse theater, 615 Banks St., Fort Mill.

    Remaining show times are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19 and 3 p.m. Dec. 13.

  • In 1942, Winston Churchill said that tea was more important than ammunition in strengthening the moral of British troops.

    Tea didn’t hurt Uncle Sam’s war efforts, either, said Betty Broome.

    Broome, who was a youngster during World War II, still recalls how women in Van Wyck would hold afternoon teas to raise money.

  • When the Rev. Bill Knight looks out across the 35-acre site where the world’s largest cotton mill once stood, he doesn’t see rusting fences, abandoned railroad tracks, tall grass and small bits of handmade bricks left behind when a texile plant was demolished.

    Knight sees a thriving mill where thousands of lint-heads worked around the clock after walking to work or catching a ride there on the Wilson bus line.

    Instead of burned-out decaying homes, he recalls a vibrant tight-knit mill village. He said some of its 3,000-plus residents were his role models.

  • When it comes to saving money, every little bit helps and there is a little good news for consumers this Thanksgiving.

    You may have noticed it while standing in the grocery checkout line.

    According to a report released by the American Farm Bureau Federation on Nov. 12,  the cost of preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – the turkey, stuffing cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings – won’t be as high this year. 

  • After losing match play to the orange-clad “Flying Scotts” during the 2008 Big Thursday Golf Tournament, John Catalano and Tim Hallman wanted another shot.

    It’s the “wait until next year” attitude at its best, but it wasn’t to be.

    Phillip Scott said his older brother, Evan, is having back problems that knocked them from match-play competition on Nov. 19 that pitted Clemson supporters against the Gamecocks faithful at Lancaster Golf Club.  

  • Ashley Faulkenberry has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

    “Words can’t describe just how thankful I am,” she said. “I’m thankful just to be alive.”

    Seriously injured in a 4-wheeler accident on May 30, this is one holiday that  Ashley, 21, never thought she would see.

    What was billed as a late night of fun and mud-slinging with friends off Spirit Road in the Rich Hill community quickly became a nightmare.

  • If you haven’t found the perfect Thanksgiving turkey by now, don’t fret.                                                                                     

  • For many people, gardening provides an inner solace that helps maintain balance in an otherwise hectic world. It provides an escape into nature where yards take on the unique personality of the gardener.

    It’s those personal touches in Jean Wilson’s yard at 2239 Sunshine Road that caught the eye of Joyce Morin of the Lancaster Garden Club. The club named Wilson’s yard the November Yard of the Month.

  • Roaming the streets at The Carolina Renaissance Festival has become old hat for 30-year-old Troy Dunbar. But in true renaissance fashion, that hat has changed into a turban.

    After portraying a wandering poet at the festival for three years, Dunbar is now Arabian sultan Azeen Al-Mullah (“defender of money”) at the 16th- century European-style arts and entertainment festival.     

    And Dunbar, choral director at Lancaster High School, is easy to spot.

  • If you see Garen Hicks around town, he might not have much to say.

    The black bracelet he wears says what words can’t.

    He wears it as a memorial to his friend and fellow 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade member U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carlo Robinson.

    A Hope, Ark., native, the 33-year-old Robinson was killed Jan. 17, 2009, when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Kabul when his patrol was attacked.

    Robinson was one of 17 of that unit’s soldiers killed during a 15-month deployment in Afghanistan.

  • In a 38-year professional music career, Ricky Skaggs has pretty much seen it all. Now he’s seen just a little more.

    Arm in arm with his daughter, Molly, and his son, Luke, the Skaggs were afforded a special treat Saturday, courtesy of L&C Railway and See Lancaster.

    The Skaggs family, and their respective bands, Kentucky Thunder and Songs of Water, enjoyed a L&C luxury train ride excursion to the Catawba River and back before performing at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster on Saturday night.