Friday, November 30, 2007

Clayton Tree Lighting

WOW! More than 2500 people walked through downtown Clayton last night for the "new" Live Christmas Village and Tree Lighting and everyone seemed to have a great time! WRAL-TV 5 morning news anchor Lynda Loveland visited a number of businesses, supped at Jones Lunch with Mayor Jody McLeod and helped emcee the tree lighting events at Town Square.
Winners of the Storefront Decorating Contest are:

Best Overall - Jones Lunch Cafe
Honorable Mention - Lee's Produce

Most Traditional - Awards & Engravables
Honorable Mention - Four Seasons Gift Baskets & More

Most Creative - Signage of the Carolina's
Honorable Mention - Pizzaz

The Grinch Award - Hometowne Realty

We'll be posting some more video and photos from last night's events as well as photos of the contest winners.

Be sure to post your comments about last night's event, too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Live Christmas Village & Tree Lighting Map

Live Christmas Village & Tree Lighting Schedule

Behind the Scenes: Mulberry on Main Italian Restaurant & Catering

The following is a brief family history of the Gubitosi's, the owners of "Mulberry On Main Italian Restaurant and Catering" at 217 E Main Street, scheduled to open on December 20:

My name is Gennarino Gubitosi but everyone calls me Jerry. My wife, Bernadette and I are blessed with seven beautiful daughters, Elise, Nicole, Antoniette,Cassandra, Alexis, Victoria and Genna and finally, a grandson, Dominic and son-in-law Kyle. My wife and I have a love for food, family and friends. This passion to gather together to share our love for each other over a great meal has been handed down for generations.

My family originally came to America in the early 1900's, when my great-grandfather settled down in what is now known as "Little Italy" in New York. He stayed here for a few years and went back to Italy after serving in Africa at the beginning of World War I. He returned to Benevento, Italy near Naples and continued to raise his family working in the industry. His brother remained in New York raising his family and eventually moved out west to California where he tried to get his family into the acting business. He succeed with his son, Mickey Gubitosi, who landed a part in the comedy series The Little Rascals and later changed his name to Robert Blake and found fame as the quirky cop Baretta. But that's the other side of the family. My mother Anotonietta and father Luciano met in that small town of Italy where I was born in 1961. We came to the United States in 1966 on the Christopher Columbus ship to Ellis Island and settled down in New York City, but did not stay for too long. We returned to Italy after my sister Maria was born and stayed there long enough to have another sister, Elisabetta. We decided to give America another chance and this time sailed to Ellis Island on the Michaelangela. Shortly after that my sister MichelleAngela was born. I think we were the only family in New York that "came off the boat" twice!

I began helping my mother in the kitchen and found I loved to cook. When I was eighteen I worked in a busy New Jersey Pizzeria then worked my way up the line of a four star Italian restaurant. I learned from some of the best. After meeting my wife we moved to Hackettstown, New Jersey where we began our family and our restaurant. We opened "Casa Gennaro's" in 1986 where we remained open until September 10, 2001. God's timing is, as always, perfect! After the attack on 9/11 the economy in New York and New Jersey went through a temporary slump, especially the restaurant business. I found work with the Labor Union at Ground Zero and continued working there for two years. In January of 2004, we decided to move to North Carolina to seek a better life for our girls and I found myself back in the restaurant business, unable to stay away from my passion for food and especially for cooking for others. We established our corporate catering business which has grown into a successful endeavor and now are excited about serving our new paisans of Clayton.

My mother, sisters and their families have also relocated here to Clayton and we are all looking forward to serving you with authentic, Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere. Buon Appetitio!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Live Christmas Village & Tree Lighting Committee

You've seen everything that is being planned for the November 29 Live Christmas Village and Tree Lighting on this blog - and in very good article in the Clayton News Star which I'll post as soon as they put it up on their website. But you haven't heard much about the folks who have been putting it all together! They are a wonderful group of creative and vivacious folks led by the Downtown Development Association's Promotion Committee chair, Lyn Austin. They have been meeting since early September to totally revamp the event and include more of the downtown area.

The Christmas Village & Tree Lighting Committee is comprised of left to right in the photo: Ryan Rosendahl, Brian Cherney, Beth Williams, Ed Knight, Lyn Austin, Lorraine Perri, Debbie Hammond, Timpla Casey, Debbie Jones and DDA Chair, Joyce Blackley.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

“Live Christmas Village” on November 29 Schedule and Activities

Everything is in place for Clayton’s “New” Live Christmas Village and Tree Lighting on Thursday, November 29 from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm in downtown Clayton. Festivities begin with the fun Doggie Costume Contest at 6:00 pm with local schools and dance performances to follow. Santa Claus will be announcing each of the scheduled performances and will lead the Clayton High School Band parade from Smith Street to the Town Square beginning around 7:30 pm. At the Town Christmas Tree on Town Square, WRAL-TV 5 morning news anchor Lynda Loveland will announce the Downtown Storefront Decoration Contest winners, Mayor Jody McLeod will serenade Ms Loveland with a Christmas song and the Clayton High School Chorus will perform and lead everyone singing Christmas Carols. For the finale, Lynda Loveland will light the tree. Lyn Austin, who is the Downtown Development Association’s Promotion Committee chair said, “I hope everyone will come early, have some food, and stroll up and down Main Street. Many of the businesses will be open serving refreshments and giving away a free Christmas tree ‘Blinky’ gift.”

28 downtown businesses will be open including three restaurants: Jones Lunch Café, 415 E Main St; The Flipside at 408 E Second St; Main Steak Bistro 312 E Main St.

The award categories for the Downtown Storefront Decorating Contest will be Most Creative, Most Traditional and Best Overall. In addition, a “People’s Choice” award will be voted on and announced at a later date. A “Grinch” award will be bestowed on non-participating storefronts! All businesses and buildings in the downtown commercial district (Robertson St to US 70 between First Street, Main Street and Second Street) will be considered. Cash prizes will be granted to category winners: $100 each for Best Overall and People’s Choice; $75 each for Most Creative and Most Traditional.

The Downtown Residential Decorating Contest will be judged between December 9 and 12 and announced on December 14. Categories will be Best Overall, Most Traditional, Most Creative and Best Neighborhood Block. All residential neighborhoods within the boundaries of Robertson Street to the west, US 70 to the south, town limits to the north and US 70 to the east will be considered. Gift prizes will be given to residential winners.

Anonymous judges for both contests will be from outside Clayton and winners and honorable mentions will receive certificates.

Schedule of Performances/Activities

6:00 pm Doggie Costume Contest Doggie Do’z 113 E First St
Doggie Parade up Main Street
6:30 pm Awarding of Prizes Barbour Bldg Parking 401 E Main St

6:40 pm Lipscomb Day Care Parking Lot Main & Lombard
6:50 pm West Clayton Elementary Crescent Bank 315 E Main St
7:00 pm East Clayton Elementary Main Street Jeweler’s 236 E Main St
7:10 pm Riverwood Elementary Stokes Family Chiropractic 201 E Main St
7:20 pm Turning Point Dance Studio Clayton Mart 208 E Main St
7:30 pm Clayton High School Band First Federal Bank 442 E Main St
Will begin performing and leading crowd toward Town Square, led by Santa Claus
8:00 pm Lynda Loveland Town Christmas Tree Town Square
8:10 pm Clayton High Chorus Town Christmas Tree Town Square
8:20 pm Christmas Tree Lighting Town Square

Additional entertainment and events will be provided throughout the evening at various locations:
- Horne Memorial Hand bell Choir will perform in front of Blackley’s Printing at 229 E Main St
- A Musical Performance & homemade fudge for sale at Woman’s Club Gazebo 109 Church St
- Clayton Visual Arts & JOCO Artists Guild will have an exhibit of artists at 217 E Main St
- Clayton Historical Association booth will provide hot cider, hot chocolate and sell 2008 CHA picture calendars at 307 E Main St.
- A live nativity by Noah’s Ark will be featured at 120 E Main Street

Business Open House
Four Season Gift Baskets & More 104 W Main St
North Carolina Paper Co 114 W Main St
True Line Surveying 205 W Main St
Coffee Mill / The Flipside 105 S Lombard St
Doggie Do'z 113 E First St
Pizzaz 132 E Main St
A-1 Custom Painting 200 E Main St
Lorie Paulk Photography 202 E Main St
Clayton Mart 208 E Main St
Fancy That Gifts 227 E Main St
Sweet T Couture (inside Fancy That) 227 E Main St
Blackley's Printing 229 E Main St
Kelly's Antiques 232 E Main St
Main Street Jewelers 236 E Main St
Flowers by the Neuse 321 E Main St
Awards & Engravables 327 E Main St
HomeTowne Realty 328 E Main St
Edward Jones 331 E Main St
Fine Jewlery by Vincent 335 E Main St
W.R. Starkey Mortgage 336 E Main St
Gail O'Neil Design 401 E Main St
Hair on Main 401 E Main St
Johnston County Democratic Party 401 E Main St
Jones Lunch 415 E Main St
Sunshine Health & Wellness 419 E Main St
Clayton Furniture Outlet 425 E Main St
Cider House Studio 436 E Main St
Stellar Peer Recovery Ctr 440 E Main St
Lewis Tire & Automotive 451 E Main St

In addition to the Clayton Downtown Development Association and the Town of Clayton, event sponsors are: BB&T, Beddingfield's Drug Company, Blackley's Printing, Clayton Spinning Mill, Clayton Steak House, Crescent State Bank, Elmore Furniture, Fancy That Gifts, Fine Jewelry by Vincent, First Federal, Four Oaks Bank, HomeTowne Realty, Hudson's Hardware, Jesse & Lyn Austin, Main Street Jewelers, Medlin Office Supply, Morning Glory Inn.

Traffic Info

On Thursday, November 29, Main Street in downtown Clayton will be closed from Smith Street to O’Neil Street between the hours of 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm . Through traffic traveling eastbound can detour to US 70 via Shotwell Road, Moore Street and Robertson Street. Westbound traffic can detour to US 70 via Durham Street and Smith Street.

Hudson's Hardware moving

Staff Writer, Sue Stock

After 22 years in one place, Clayton staple Hudson's Hardware is moving to a bigger space.
For the complete story

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Clayton Historic District Presentation Well-Attended

There were about 33 people in attendance at the presentation of the first draft of the proposed Clayton Historic District last night, most of whom were property owners (commercial and residential) within the proposed district. Consultant Nancy Van Dolsen, who is preparing the nomination for the National Register of Historic Places, discussed the process and presented a short slide show that outlined Clayton's history. Jeff Adolphsen, a Restoration Specialist with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)provided an brief overview about the Rehabilitation Tax Credits available to eligible property owners within the historic district. Income-producing buildings can receive a 20% tax credit from the feds and 20% from NC. Non-income producing buildings can receive a 30% tax credit from NC.

A few points that Nancy made:

1) This is a changing document and she welcomes changes, corrections, and additions to the information in the first draft

2) The boundaries are not likely to get any smaller, but only larger

3) "Contributing" buildings reflect the period of significance (1885 - 1960) Changes to the original structure should have been made prior to 1960

4) A historic district needs to have a large concentration of buildings that "contribute" to the district

5) She is asking SHPO (which is reviewing the draft over the next 6 months)if an area east of the boundary in the Second Street area can be included if the gap isn't too significant.

6) A National Register District does not preclude anything from being done to the building. It does however, trigger a Section 106 Review (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966)if a governmental agency applies for a permit to make a change within a historic district (ie DOT)

Ms Van Dolsen said the final nomination package would likely be presented to the National Register Advisory Committee by next October. They only meet 3 times a year (February, June and October). With the draft being reviewed starting this month, and approximately 6 mo process, then making corrections and changes as recommended by the SHPO, it pushes the presentation to October 2008.

A reference copy of the first draft is available at the Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library and Town Clerk's office.

Nancy Van Dolsen's number is (252)243-7861 and email is

Jeff Adolphsen's phone number is (919) 807-6572 and his email is

More information about Historic Tax Credits and Historic Districts may be found at the State Historic Preservation Office website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Christmas Village & Tree Lighting Poster

Obsolete Utility Lines Removed From Clayton’s Main Street

There is a clearer view of the sky and architectural beauty in downtown Clayton since a layer of utility lines was removed recently from utility poles.

As a result of system upgrades Clayton Electric Department workers removed obsolete overhead utility lines on East Main Street from the Wagoner House at 121 E Main Street to Clayton Furniture Outlet at 425 E Main Street.

According to Ronnie Wood, Director of the Town of Clayton Electric Department, the lines were bypassed and no longer needed. He said, “They were some older lines that were not being used any longer and, as part of the Town’s efforts to improve the appearance of downtown, we were able to remove them.”

The remaining lines, he added, are telephone and cable lines. There are hopes that, in time, those lines may be rerouted also and downtown can be free of overhead lines entirely.

The Town of Clayton has been in the process of upgrading electrical service in the downtown area since early 2006. The upgrade consisted of the extension of the 23 KV facilities and the removal of the 4 KV systems which included removing the substation facility on Moore Street. In the process, certain power poles and lines were consolidated and rerouted so they would be less noticeable.

The Downtown Clayton Vision Statement developed in the spring, suggests underground utility lines by 2012. According to Downtown Development Coordinator, Bruce Naegelen, it will be a very expensive project, but the DDA is working toward that goal. In the meantime, Naegelen said, the DDA is improving the ground level appearance of downtown. He said, “Just putting utility lines underground does not bring more visitors and customers to downtown, but improving the appearance of downtown Clayton at the pedestrian level, will be a more effective way to bring more people to downtown.”

The Downtown Development Association (DDA) is doing this by working with property owners to upgrade downtown building facades, working with business owners to develop attractive and inviting window displays and by developing easy access parking from Robertson Street to Smith Street, informational and directional signage, crosswalks and other pedestrian-friendly improvements.

Naegelen reminds residents that revitalization is an incremental process, “Lots of small steps lead to realizing the vision and progress being made.”

For more information on downtown Clayton and the DDA, please contact Bruce Naegelen at 553-1545 or Or DDA Chair Joyce Blackley at 553-6813.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Downtown gets defensive: Booster dispute chamber leader's assessment

By Sarah Nagem, Staff Reporter

CLAYTON -- Downtown has a nightlife -- or at least things are moving in the right direction, some locals say.

Jodi Sager, owner of The Coffee Mill and The Flip Side on Lombard Street, is one of those people. "We have a very unique venue here," she said. (full article)