Gaston County Launches Registration Options For COVID Vaccine Clinic, Longtime Commissioner Joe Carpenter Dies At 84

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County officials say they launched a new tool to help residents get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine, and longtime commissioner Joe Carpenter died on Sunday, January 3rd at the age of 84.

All residents in groups 1a and 1b can click here to register for their COVID-19 vaccine, according to a news release.

Officials say this online registration has been created to help alleviate the strain the County’s COVID-19 Vaccination Registration hotline has been dealing with, since seeing significant demand in its first three days of use.

County officials say the hotline is still available at 704-866-3170, and employees will continue to staff the hotline during the week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Officials with Gaston County Public Health say every resident will have an opportunity to get the vaccine and to remain patient.

“We understand the frustration with the limited appointment availability and are continuing to work through many voicemails from residents to schedule their vaccination,” Gaston County Assistant Health Director Brittain Kenney said. “We want to assure everyone that vaccines will be available to anyone in the eligible populations – frontline healthcare workers, long term care residents and staff, and those older than 75 – in the coming weeks. We are scheduling large vaccination events every Friday and will be adding other opportunities very soon.”

County officials say Friday, January 8th is the first vaccination opportunity for residents 75 and older, and the clinic remains open for residents in group 1a who have not yet received the vaccine.

County officials stress that the clinic is ONLY for pre-registered residents as they try to manage the amount of cars and patients moving through the setup.

While extreme weather is forecasted for tomorrow, officials say the vaccine clinic is still on track from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market.

“Please do not put yourself or others at risk if you do not feel comfortable driving,” Kenney said. “There will be plenty of other opportunities to get this vaccine.”

Officials say in the coming weeks local healthcare providers will begin offering the vaccine to their patients, and residents can check with their primary care physicians to see if this an option for them.

In addition to the COVID vaccine updates, Gaston County officials celebrate the life of Commission Joe Carpenter who died this past Sunday at the age of 84.

Officials say Carpenter represented the Crowders Mountain Township from 1988 to 1992 and from 1998 to 2016, serving on the board for a total of 22 years, and spending 7 of those years serving as either chair or vice-chair of the board.

The Gaston County Visitor’s Center was named in his honor in 2016, as he played a significant role in the economic development of the county for the past three decades, according to a news release.

“Joe Carpenter had a major influence on our economic development program for more than 30 years. His consistent support, guidance, foresight and leadership created much of the organization and the assets, such as The Summit, Gastonia Technology Park and SouthRidge Business Park, which have built and strengthened our economy,” Gaston County EDC Executive Director Donny Hicks said. “His legacy will be one of taking the right actions for the benefit of the citizenry, always being focused on creating a better future and for giving much of his life to public service.”

Officials say Carpenter also served Gaston County as a founding member of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, spending 14 years as a member of the Centralina Council of Governments, serving 12 years on the Gaston College Board of Trustees, and dedicating his time to numerous other boards and commissions.

Longtime Gaston County Attorney Chick Moore says numbers alone don’t begin to tell Carpenter’s accomplishments made in the county.

“I will always remember Joe for his gentle nature as a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” Moore said. “This gentle nature sometimes hid the amazing political courage Joe brought to the realm of local government. He was always a strong advocate both with the Board of Commissioners and with the State Association of
Commissioners for the things that he believed should be done, even when these things were not politically popular. Each time I saw Joe advocate for a practical solution to a
political problem that would face strong headwinds, I was reminder of my own grandfather who was a county commissioner in Virginia.”

“I think that is why I always enjoyed his company. Both conservative and practical, he
was a role model we should all appreciate.”

Officials say Carpenter was instrumental in creating Gaston Family Health Services Inc. (now Kintegra Health) in 1991 to address the crisis-level physician shortage in the county, and to alleviate the burden on the county’s emergency department at its local hospital.

Chairman of the Gaston EDC Board Robert Browne says Carpenter was passionate about making the county a better place.

“Joe was the ultimate champion for all things that would be of benefit and prosper Gaston County,” Browne said. “Whether it was caring for individuals via input into DHHS
issues, economic growth through serving on the EDC Board, or willingly serving and providing input on the outside Transportation Boards he served on. Joe and his
commitment to making Gaston County a better place to live and work will be greatly missed.”

Officials say Carpenter was a lifelong resident of Gaston County and was married to his wife Gloria Carpenter for 65 years.