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Mecklenburg may spend up to $30m for new tennis complex

Published November 22, 2022 at 10:17 AM EST

Mecklenburg Commissioners are considering whether to spend up to $30 million to help build a new tennis facility in the River District west of the airport.

Charleston-based Beemok Capital has proposed building the $400 million tennis complex. The company has said it might move the Western & Southern professional tennis tournament from its home in suburban Cincinnati to Charlotte.

The city of Charlotte has already approved spending $65 million from tourism taxes to help bring the facility and tournament to Charlotte. The city’s money would come from a tax that can only be used for tourism-related projects.

The county said that the state is willing to spend $25 million, which would bring the total public investment to $120 million.

In a presentation to commissioners Wednesday, Mecklenburg deputy county manager Leslie Johnson did not say where the county’s $30 million would come from. Some of that money could - in theory - be used for other things like public health and affordable housing.

She said the state of Ohio first offered $50 million to Beemok to keep the tournament, and has since increased its offer to possibly $150 million.

“They understand the significance and the economic benefit of this site to their community,” she said.

Johnson said a forecast shows that the county would recoup its investment in 19 years through new property taxes paid by the facility.

Commissioners on the county’s economic development committee backed the proposal. Mark Jerrel was especially enthusiastic.

“Overall, I have not seen a better deal since I’ve been sitting on the board,” he said.

The full commission will vote on the $30 million later this summer.

Lithium plant fire closes NC 161 in Bessemer City

Posted June 26, 2023 at 6:01 AM EDT

Highway 161 in Bessemer City is shut down this morning at the site of a three-alarm fire at a lithium plant. Gaston County officials say the three-alarm blaze began about 1:30 this morning at the Livent (LIVE-ent) facility on the western side of Bessemer City and that NC 161 is closed between 14th Street and Lewis Farm Road. There’s no word on what may have started the fire or on any injuries.

Mecklenburg may spend up to $30m for new tennis complex

Posted June 21, 2023 at 5:19 PM EDT

Mecklenburg Commissioners are considering whether to spend up to $30 million to help build a new tennis facility in the River District west of the airport.

Charleston-based Beemok Capital has proposed building the $400 million tennis complex. The company has said it might move the Western & Southern professional tennis tournament from its home in suburban Cincinnati to Charlotte.

The city of Charlotte has already approved spending $65 million from tourism taxes to help bring the facility and tournament to Charlotte. The city’s money would come from a tax that can only be used for tourism-related projects.

The county said that the state is willing to spend $25 million, which would bring the total public investment to $120 million.

In a presentation to commissioners Wednesday, Mecklenburg deputy county manager Leslie Johnson did not say where the county’s $30 million would come from. Some of that money could - in theory - be used for other things like public health and affordable housing.

She said the state of Ohio first offered $50 million to Beemok to keep the tournament, and has since increased its offer to possibly $150 million.

“They understand the significance and the economic benefit of this site to their community,” she said.

Johnson said a forecast shows that the county would recoup its investment in 19 years through new property taxes paid by the facility.

Commissioners on the county’s economic development committee backed the proposal. Mark Jerrel was especially enthusiastic.

“Overall, I have not seen a better deal since I’ve been sitting on the board,” he said.

The full commission will vote on the $30 million later this summer.

Hearings begin this week on Duke Energy rate increase for Charlotte and western NC

Posted June 20, 2023 at 12:48 PM EDT

Public hearings begin this week on Duke Energy's request to raise rates 15.7% over three years for central and western North Carolina, including Charlotte.

The rate hikes would affect Duke Energy Carolinas customers from Durham to Greensboro to Charlotte and the western part of the state, excluding the Asheville area. Duke says it needs to raise an additional $823 million to upgrade the electric grid, improve reliability during storms and prepare for more renewable energy and electric vehicles.

If approved, rates would rise 9.5% overall next Jan. 1, 3.3% in 2025 and 2.9% in 2026.

The increases would be slightly higher for residential customers — 17.9% over three years. They would rise 10.5% in 2024, 3.8% in 2025 and 3.6% in 2026. Duke says it costs more to serve the larger number of residential customers.

A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would pay about $19.97 a month more in the third year. A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would wind up paying $19.97 a month more in the third year. Duke says that would still be below the current national average electric bill.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission plans hearings Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Burke County Courthouse in Morganton and Thursday at 7 p.m. at Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte. Additional hearings will be held in July. For details, visit https://www.ncuc.gov/Hearings/e7sub1276_hearing.html

Regulators are also considering a similar rate increase for customers of Duke Energy Progress, in the eastern part of the state and the Asheville area. Hearings in that case were held last month.

State Sen. Rachel Hunt says Twitter won't allow abortion rights video as ad

Posted June 15, 2023 at 9:20 PM EDT

Mecklenburg Democratic State Sen. Rachel Hunt, who is running for lieutenant governor, said Twitter won’t allow her to use a two-minute campaign video talking about abortion rights as a paid advertisement on the site.

The video clip focuses on abortion rights and Hunt’s belief that the GOP will seek more abortion restrictions in the future. Hunt said she is running for higher office because “the Republican plan isn’t this year’s 12-week abortion ban, it’s next years’ total abortion ban.”

Hunt said her campaign sent Twitter money to boost the video, or essentially make it a paid advertisement that shows up in people’s feeds.

“The money wasn’t used,” Hunt said. “We didn’t get any notice from them at all at first. But then we inquired why this hasn't been done? Why haven’t you boosted it? And we were told that is abortion advocacy. And they will not allow us to boost the post or promote it in any way.”

Twitter didn’t take down the video, which is still on her feed. But Hunt posted a screenshot showing the promotion had been halted. Hunt said that’s a big problem because abortion rights is a large part of her campaign, as well as a key issue for Democrats across the country.

She says Twitter has told her it might have “good news to share on that front” but as of now the video still isn’t allowed as a paid ad..

“And obviously that is very concerning to us because you know this concerns a fundamental right of North Carolinians and and they are saying it’s prohibited content,” Hunt said.

Twitter was purchased by Elon Musk last year, who said he wanted to make the platform a forum for free speech.

WFAE reached out to Twitter’s press email about the issue. As is Twitter’s standard response to media inquiries, it replied with a poop emoji.

Duke Energy seeks rate increase in eastern NC and Asheville for higher fuel costs

Posted June 14, 2023 at 12:01 PM EDT

Duke Energy wants to raise rates 4.3% at the end of this year for residential customers in the Asheville area and eastern North Carolina to cover rising fuel costs.

The company says that's about half the increase regulators approved last year for the division, known as Duke Energy Progress. Duke says a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would pay $5.98 more per month.

Duke doesn't make a profit on fuel. It charges customers only the actual cost.

“While we continue to see increasing energy demand as a result of a growing economy, fuel prices have begun to stabilize, which is a positive sign for our customers,” Duke North Carolina President Kendal Bowman said in a press release.

The rate hike would be in addition to a proposed three-year, 16% increaseto cover new plants, transmission lines and other facilities.

Duke also has asked regulators for similar rate hikes in its central and western North Carolina territory, Duke Energy Carolinas. That includes a 16.6% increase for fuel costs and a 3-year, 15.7% increase to cover the cost of big projects. Regulators have scheduled public hearings on the 3-year increaselater this month and next, beginning with hearings June 21 in Morganton and June 22 in Charlotte.

Duke Energy seeks rate increase in eastern NC and Asheville for higher fuel costs

Posted June 14, 2023 at 11:08 AM EDT

Duke Energy wants to raise rates 4.3% at the end of this year for residential customers in the Asheville area and eastern North Carolina to cover rising fuel costs.

The company says that's about half the increase regulators approved last year for the division, known as Duke Energy Progress. Duke says a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would pay $5.98 more per month.

Duke doesn't make a profit on fuel. It charges customers only the actual cost.

“While we continue to see increasing energy demand as a result of a growing economy, fuel prices have begun to stabilize, which is a positive sign for our customers,” Duke North Carolina President Kendal Bowman said in a press release.

The rate hike would be in addition to a proposed three-year, 16% increaseto cover new plants, transmission lines and other facilities.

Duke also has asked regulators for similar rate hikes in its central and western North Carolina territory, Duke Energy Carolinas. That includes a 16.6% increase for fuel costs and a 3-year, 15.7% increase to cover the cost of big projects. Regulators have scheduled public hearings on the 3-year increaselater this month and next, beginning with hearings June 21 in Morganton and June 22 in Charlotte.

Charlotte City Council approves budget with no tax increase but higher fees

Posted June 12, 2023 at 7:37 PM EDT

The Charlotte City Council approved Monday night its $3.3 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget raises hourly employees’ pay by 6%, while salaried employees will get a 4% increase.

Police and firefighters will get larger raises.

The budget has a revenue neutral property tax rate, which means the city will collect the same amount of money as last year, outside of the new buildings and houses that have been completed in the last 12 months.

But most homeowners will still pay more in city taxes. That’s because residential property increased at a higher rate than commercial property in the recent property revaluation.

And the budget increases the solid waste fee; stormwater fees; and water rates.

Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston voted against the budget, saying the raises given to city employees aren’t big enough.

“What that means for the public is that it’s going to be very difficult for us to keep the skilled workers that are necessary to provide the critical services that are necessary,” Winston said. “So those salary workers - I feel like we’re going to lose a lot of good important talent.”

Winston was the only council member to vote no.

Cabarrus Board of Education passes resolution opposing NC voucher proposal

Posted June 6, 2023 at 9:01 AM EDT

In a 5-2 vote last night the Cabarrus County School Board passed a resolution opposing the General Assembly’s school voucher proposal saying it could cost the district nearly $3 million.

Board member Pam Escobar made the motion for the resolution, questioning whether lower income families would actually benefit.

"That's my concern that this money isn't going to go to families that could use it or need it or really give them an opportunity," she said. "What it's really going to be doing is going into the pockets of families who have already made the choice and have already decided not to be part of public schools."

Superintendent John Kopicki described for board members what the voucher funding could do locally.

"We all know sitting here that we have over $300 million in deferred maintenance costs in the system here in Cabarrus County," he said. "Well, if we took that money, we split that over 115 districts, it's about $6.8 million per district, which would be, what does that mean for us? That means two roofs are done without (additional) taxpayer money. That means possibly an HVAC system that we could do."

The Cabarrus resolution says the board opposes any voucher bill that does not include a household income limit as a meaningful part of the eligibility criteria.

CATS rail general manager is placed on leave

Posted May 23, 2023 at 2:25 PM EDT

The Charlotte Area Transit System said Tuesday that the general manager for rail operations, Deltrin Harris, has been placed on administrative leave.

WBTV first reported the news. CATS did not disclose the reason. The transit system’s light-rail and streetcar lines have been under scrutiny, due to a May 2022 derailment of a Lynx Blue Line train.

No one was hurt in the derailment, but the North Carolina Carolina Department of Transportation said the CATS’ response to the accident was unclear, insufficient and not acceptable. It also said that other trains could be at risk of derailing.

The state has also said it would shut down a rail line if CATS doesn’t have at least two people working in its rail operations control center at all times.

A former Rail Operations controller, Terry Creech, toldWFAE last month that the control center was routinely staffed with only one person. He said that was unsafe.

Creech, who was fired by CATS, has filed a lawsuit against the city.

CATS says bus driver and passenger shoot at each other

Posted May 18, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT

A Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver and a passenger shot one another this morning on board a CATS bus after getting into an argument.

Both were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The shooting happened on route 56 near the Charlotte Premium Outlet mall in Steele Creek.

CATS said it does not allow any employee to have a weapon on CATS property or while on duty.

In recent months, CATS drivers have said they are worried about their safety and that the transit system hasn’t provided enough security.

Last year, a CATS bus driver was shot and killed by another driver during a road rage episode in uptown. Former CATS chief executive John Lewis said the driver, Ethan Rivera, had not followed policy and should have de-escalated the situation.

Storms knock out power, close four schools in Gaston County

Posted May 17, 2023 at 5:40 AM EDT

Duke Energy shows about 10,000 customers without power in the western part of the state this morning after storms last night downed power lines and caused other damage in the region, particularly west of Charlotte.

About a thousand customers are without power in Cherryville this morning and four Gaston County Schools will be closed today according to the district.

Cherryville Elementary, Beam Intermediate, Chavis Middle and Cherryville High School are closed today after losing power. Gaston County schools says all after-school activities are cancelled today.

In Mecklenburg County, Duke Energy shows about 3,000 customers remain without power this morning. About a third of those are in north Charlotte in an area bounded by Harris Boulevard, Mallard Creek Road and West Sugar Creek Road.

Mecklenburg Commissioners approve spending millions from opioid settlement

Posted May 16, 2023 at 7:37 PM EDT

Mecklenburg Commissioners approved Tuesday spending more than $10 million it will receive as part of a nationwide opioid settlement with pharmaceutical companies.

More than $4 million would be spent on treatment and recovery, and $3 million would be spent to help people with addictions find housing. There would also be money to give people clean syringes and $330,000 to buy the life-saving drug Naloxone.

Robert Nesbit, the county’s chief of staff for its Consolidated Human Services Agency, said the drug can be given to first responders throughout the county.

"For context, that $330,000 would purchase approximately 1,000 Naloxone or Narcan kits," he said. "And we’ll work with various partners - we really want to have a wide reach with this."

The county said it’s expected to receive nearly $73 million in settlement money by 2038.

CMPD Officer arrested in Wrightsville Beach for domestic violence

Posted May 16, 2023 at 10:29 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has arrested an officer who's charged with domestic violence.

The incident happened between Officer Nakeya Nelson and another individual CMPD did not name. Nelson was arrested on Sunday by the Wrightsville Beach Police Department and was charged with assault and battery.

“Yesterday, one of our officers was arrested during a domestic violence situation in New Hanover County. The CMPD will continue to gather all the facts about this incident, and we will allow Internal Affairs to conduct a full investigation,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said in a statement.

Nelson has been with CMPD since 2014 will be placed on administrative leave until the internal investigation is completed.

Coming this evening: New plans for CMS south county school boundaries

Posted May 15, 2023 at 2:15 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools plans to post the latest plans for southern school boundaries after 5 p.m. today (find the information here) . The changes will accommodate a new high school opening in 2024 and a new middle school opening in 2025. The draft presented last month would bring changes to the attendance zones for four high schools, 10 middle schools and 14 elementary schools.

The newest version represents Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill’s recommendation to the board, which plans to vote on June 6. It will be the 15th version of boundary plans since work began more than a year ago. Recent discussions have sparked tension between people who want an emphasis on socioeconomic diversity and those focusing on schools closest to home.

CMS board calls emergency meeting in superintendent search

Posted May 15, 2023 at 7:26 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board has called an emergency meeting Monday night as it continues its search for a new superintendent. The board plans to go into closed session immediately after the meeting begins tonight at 8:15 pm. CMS has tentatively planned to name a new superintendent at a public meeting this week.

SC lawmakers return this week to revisit abortion, bond reform and gun penalties

Posted May 14, 2023 at 1:32 PM EDT

South Carolina lawmakers will reconvene in Columbia on Tuesday at the calling of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

In a statement, McMaster says lawmakers still have a host of issues that need to be addressed, including abortion, bond reform and stronger penalties for illegal gun possession. He also said lawmakers need to complete the state budget.

"The General Assembly has made progress on a few items this year, such as expanding school choice, repealing certificate of need, restructuring of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, passing a shield law, and approving a large incentive package for Scout Motors," McMaster's statement read, "but they have not finished their business."

South Carolina Republicans had been discussing a modified version of a six-week abortion ban titled the "Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act," but have so far been unable to reach an agreement. For now, the state’s 20-week ban remains in effect.

The governor's office says McMaster is the first governor since Jim Hodges to reconvene the General Assembly for a special session.

Councilman Winston urges more funding for public transit at town hall meeting

Posted May 14, 2023 at 1:23 PM EDT

Charlotte city councilman Braxton Winston says Charlotte needs to double down on getting more funding for public transit.

Winston made the comments to reporters after a town hall focused on mobility and transportation at the ImaginOn children's library in uptown Charlotte on Saturday.

"That is one of the preeminent needs I think in this community, and we haven’t figured out a way to fund those," Winston said. "I would really love to figure out a way to get up to Raleigh to get the needed revenue in order to keep people and things moving throughout our city."

The city of Charlotte is trying to build support for its $13.5 billion transit plan which would include a new light rail from Matthews to uptown and the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The city council could ask state lawmakers in Raleigh for the authority to put a one-cent sales tax on the ballot to help fund the plan, though the city hasn’t yet formally proposed the idea to Raleigh, and Republican legislative leaders have said they’re skeptical.

Winston is planning to step down from city council when he term ends in December as he prepares to run for North Carolina Secretary of Labor in 2024.

Winston was also asked for his reaction to reports that the city council had been discussing in closed session whether to help pay for a major renovation to Bank of America Stadium. Winston said he believes it's important for the city to invest in major tourism draws.

"Part of our responsibility as city is to make this a place that people want to come live, work and play. I think we as a community want Charlotte to be a destination," Winston said. "I think our community, our city council, and our city government and our partners are committed to finding ways to invest in this city to grow our revenue, and to make this a destination."

Winston add that he believed there were other projects that could boost tourism as well, such as a $400 million proposed tennis complex near the Catawba River, which could include $130 million in public funding, as well as investments in the Charlotte-Douglas Airport.

Minor earthquake rumbles under Pineville

Posted May 12, 2023 at 9:52 AM EDT

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported an early morning earthquake near Pineville.

According to the USGS, the 2.1 magnitude quake hit just before 6 a.m. seven-tenths of a mile north northwest of Pineville and 6.4 miles north northeast of Fort Mill. Typically, earthquakes below magnitude 2.5 aren’t felt at the surface and cause no damage

Medic employee and two others face life-threatening injuries after overnight crash

Posted May 12, 2023 at 5:35 AM EDT

A serious overnight crash has North Tryon Street shut down at Mallard Creek Church Road and one Medic employee facing life threatening injuries this morning.

Medic says it happened at about 12:30 am when an ambulance that was parked on the scene treating a patient involved in an unrelated incident was hit by another vehicle. One Medic employee was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Two other employees were also transported with injuries, one of them serious. All are currently in stable condition.

The initial patient that was being treated was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and another person in the vehicle that hit the ambulance was also transported with life threatening injuries.

Longtime JCSU athletics director stepping down — but he's not leaving the school

Posted May 11, 2023 at 10:48 AM EDT

Johnson C. Smith athletics director Steve Joyner is stepping down to concentrate on his duties as men’s basketball coach.

JCSU says the 72-year-old Joyner will give up the position after 18 years as well as two previous stints in the job when his successor is announced. He will remain with the basketball program, where he has a 586-410 record.

He played as a point guard for the Golden Bulls from 1969-1973.

"The timing is right," Joyner said in a statement. "It will be good for the new president to hire new Athletics department leadership as the University's transformation initiatives accelerate with the new president's vision for JCSU."

UNC Charlotte selected for Mebane Foundation grant

Posted May 11, 2023 at 10:14 AM EDT

UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education has been chosen by the Mebane Foundation for a major grant to support innovative literacy education.

The school will receive $23 million over the next five years.

“The Mebane name will continue as a gold standard for teacher readiness, assuring Mr. Mebane’s vision is realized. Together, we will create a better future for North Carolina,” Chancellor Sharon Gaber said.

The grant will also help with funding to Cato College to supports teacher development, community partnerships and research.

The Mebane Foundation’s gift is one of the largest gifts received in school history and UNC Charlotte is the only public university in the state to receive the gift.

The College of Education building will be renamed to Mebane Hall later this year.

Lynx vehicle derails inside rail yard

Posted May 10, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT

The Charlotte Area Transit System said a Lynx Blue Line train derailed Wednesday inside the rail yard off South Boulevard. No one was on board the train, and the driver wasn’t hurt.

CATS has been under scrutiny since a May 2022 Lynx derailment that highlighted the transit system’s lack of maintenance on its fleet. There were passengers aboard at the time but no one was hurt. The state criticized the transit system’s response to the accident, saying it was insufficient and not acceptable. It implemented a 35-mph speed limit on all trains for safety reasons.

In a notice to elected officials sent Wednesday afternoon, CATS did not use the word derailment. It instead said the train "left its natural position on the track."

Brent Cagle, CATS interim chief executive, said he was alerting them to the incident to be transparent. He said an investigation is underway.

CMS board member Jennifer De La Jara won't seek reelection

Posted May 9, 2023 at 9:01 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Jennifer De La Jara said Tuesday night that she won’t seek another term this fall. Speaking at the board’s meeting, De La Jara thanked her family for their support.

"I appreciate them being here as I go ahead and announce that I am not seeking reelection in the fall. There are multiple reasons why I’m not, but they are most definitely the primary reason," she said.

De La Jara has held an at-large seat on the board since 2019. She ran unsuccessfully for county commission last year. De La Jara said she will support a “strong Latina candidate” to replace her in the November election, but did not say who that would be.

North Carolina ICE cooperation proposal expected to advance

Posted May 9, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT

A North Carolina immigrant advocacy group is preparing to sue the state if sheriffs are mandated to fulfill federal immigration duties.

For the third time, North Carolina lawmakers are considering a proposal that would obligate the state’s sheriffs to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Previous attempts were vetoed by the governor.

Maria González, deputy director of El Pueblo Inc., says that with a Republican majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, HB10 could be different from previous efforts.

“We are now looking at litigation as a strategy for if it does pass, because unfortunately, the votes are there to pass it and to do a veto override,” she said.

A series of Republican-sponsored bills targeting immigrants were submitted to the General Assembly this session. HB10 was the only proposal to reach a House vote in time to advance to the Senate.

González expects a Senate committee will consider HB10 before the end of the month. If the proposal becomes law, she says the measure could drive agricultural workers and immigrant residents to leave the state.

DNA leads to arrest in 1994 sexual assault in Charlotte

Posted May 9, 2023 at 4:39 PM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has charged a suspect in a 1994 cold case sexual assault investigation.

Around 1:30 a.m., on June 17, 1994, a 39-year-old woman reported to CMPD that someone broke into her home and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. At the time, a sexual assault kit was completed. But despite an investigation, no arrest was made.

Fast forward to 2019: The samples from the Charlotte scene were linked to a sexual assault in Columbia, S.C., that happened in 2010, according to detectives.

After receiving funding from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative in 2022, detectives used forensic genetic genealogy and DNA to identify the suspect: 50-year-old James Wayne Ingersoll.

Ingersoll was arrested on Thursday in Concord, North Carolina. CMPD was aided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Columbia Police Department.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call 704-432-TIPS.

Former Rep. Mark Walker to make announcement on NC governor race

Posted May 9, 2023 at 1:13 PM EDT

Former Congressman Mark Walker has scheduled a May 20 event to announce his decision on whether to enter the North Carolina governor’s race.

He’s widely expected to join Lt. Governor Mark Robinson and State Treasurer Dale Folwell in the contest for the Republican nomination. Robinson is the favorite, with polls showing him enjoying a wide margin over other candidates.

On the Democratic side, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein is running for the nomination.

Davidson gets proposed budget, votes on social districts tonight

Posted May 9, 2023 at 8:38 AM EDT

Davidson Town Manager Jamie Justice will present next year’s recommended budget to the town board of commissioners tonight.

It proposes adding three police positions and two public works positions, inflationary and merit pay raises for employees and establishing a fund for investing in affordable housing.

The tax rate would be 26.6 cents per $100 of valuation, down from 32.5 cents currently. Revaluation would mean a revenue-neutral rate, which the Town of Davidson determined is 23.6 cents per $100, according to a press release.

A public hearing is set for May 23.

Also tonight, Davidson Town Commissioners are expected to vote on a plan to create two social districts that would allow customers to drink alcoholic beverages outside, if bought within the district.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be live-streamed. Here's the agenda.

Gov. Cooper visits Davidson, Huntersville today

Posted May 9, 2023 at 6:47 AM EDT

This week Gov. Roy Cooper will visit several places across the state to speak on Senate Bill 20 — the measure that would ban abortion in North Carolina after 12 weeks.

The Charlotte area is Cooper's first stop.

Cooper will travel to Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties, home to Republican legislators who, according to a press release from Cooper’s office, “made campaign promises to protect women’s reproductive health and urge their constituents to ask them to keep their promises.” The two Mecklenburg Republican lawmakers named in Cooper’s release are Tricia Cotham and John Bradford.

Today at noon, Cooper will host a roundtable discussion at the Davidson Town Hall.

Cooper has vowed to veto the abortion bill, but Republicans have a supermajority that can override his veto, but only if all of them continue to support it.

Later this afternoon, the governor will visit Huntersville for an economic development announcement.

Charlotte City Council drops plan to double the length of their terms

Posted May 8, 2023 at 8:49 PM EDT

Charlotte City Council voted Monday night not to move forward with a plan to double the length of their terms from two years to four. It’s an idea that’s been discussed off and on for years. Proponents say four-year terms would give council members more time to do the job without having to campaign. Council member Renee Johnson said scrapping the plan means a lot of work has gone to waste.

"All of the whole process, the previous council voting to move it forward, all of that work is behind us and void if we don't vote on it right now, if we don't move forward with what's on the table," she said. "We're deferring it until the 12th of never."

Only Johnson, Braxton Winston and LaWana Mayfield voted for the plan, which had already been through committees and a public hearing. If City Council had voted to move forward with the plan, four-year terms would have been on ballots for a referendum this November but that’s off the table now.

A City Council committee Tuesday backed a plan to switch from two-year terms to four-year terms. It also backed increasing the number of City Council members from 11 to 12.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board holding closed-session superintendent search meeting

Posted May 8, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT

The Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board will hold a special meeting Monday starting at 7:30 pm regarding the search for a new superintendent. The meeting will immediately move into a closed section, meaning no one from the public will be allowed in.

Last week, the board interviewed 4 finalists for the position.

Unlike past years, the finalists won’t meet the public before being selected; the board has agreed to confidentiality for anyone who is not chosen.

The board originally hoped to have a superintendent named by Tuesday but said last week that goal was no longer possible.

Eastside STREAM Academy in Charlotte to lose charter after final board vote

Posted May 8, 2023 at 2:45 PM EDT

A Charlotte charter school lost its appeal and will lose its charter, after a final vote Monday by the state Board of Education.

In a brief Zoom meeting, the board voted unanimously to uphold earlier decisions by North Carolina’s Charter School Advisory Board and the education board. That means public funding will end in June for Eastside, which opened in 2013 and has about 300 K-8 students.

The state found that the school on Robinson Church Road has had consistently low academic performance, leadership churn and a history of financial problems.

The school appealed those decisions, but a panel of independent lawyers said that the state board had acted properly. Board member Amy White said Monday that the evidence was plentiful.

"We did hear extensive information and I read into the record the reasons stated by the Charter School Advisory Board and independent expert panel," said White.

A Charlotte charter school is appealing North Carolina's decision to cut off funding this summer, saying it's working to fix academic struggles and staff churn.

Trump, Pence, DeSantis to speak at NCGOP convention

Posted May 8, 2023 at 2:25 PM EDT

Three of the most prominent Republicans — and likely presidential candidates — are set to speak at the North Carolina Republican Party's 2023 convention next month in Greensboro.

Former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will address the gathering at the Koury Convention Center. Trump, the only one of the three who has declared as a presidential candidate, is currently the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination in 2024.

North Carolina has been a red state in presidential races since 2012, but the state remains relatively competitive.

The three-day convention starts June 8.

Two North Carolina conservancy groups partner to purchase 1,125 acres of land

Posted May 8, 2023 at 12:39 PM EDT

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Conservancy have completed a deal to purchase and protect an 1,125-acre property in western North Carolina.

The property stretches on the Brushy Mountains between Wilkes, Alexander and Iredell counties.

A portion of the land was donated by Cary-based Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. He owned a large portion of the land and his plan was to keep the area for permanent conservation. He’s become a major land conservationist in recent years.

CMPD investigating a fatal scooter crash in uptown

Posted May 8, 2023 at 11:09 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a fatal crash in the Third Ward uptown that left a teenager riding an electric scooter dead this weekend.

On Saturday, officers responded around 6:25 pm to the 300 block of Mint Street for a call about a vehicle versus pedestrian crash. When officers arrived, they found the rider of the Bird scooter, 16-year old Carlos David Caro Sevilla. He was struck by a 2022 Dodge Ram 3500 while crossing the street.

Sevilla was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries, and was pronounced dead on the way.

According to the initial investigation, officers found the driver of the Dodge Ram — who was also a juvenile — was making a right turn onto Mint Street from West Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. Sevilla entered the crosswalk at the same time as the Dodge turned, and he was struck. The driver of the Dodge stayed at the scene and, according to officers, was not impaired.

No charges have been filed, though the investigation is ongoing.

CMPD asks anyone who saw the wreck to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

NC Attorney General Stein visits Charlotte today

Posted May 8, 2023 at 8:52 AM EDT

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is in Charlotte today. He’s hosting a conversation at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Beatties Ford Road about youth safety and well-being with a mental health focus.

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, health professionals and parent advocates are part of the event. Stein, who’s running for governor, is expected to make remarks just before 11:30 this morning.

City budget, four-year terms on this week's Charlotte City Council agenda

Posted May 7, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDT

Two major items are on the Charlotte City Council agenda for Monday night that could shape the future of the city and the leaders who represent it.

The first is a plan that would significantly change how the city is governed by moving from two-year to four-year terms for the mayor and council members, and adding an eighth district seat.

That would bring the total number of council members to 12, which could lead to more tie votes — and give the mayor more opportunities to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Council members have previously split on the proposal. Some, like At-Large Democratic council member Lawana Mayfield have argued the city has grown so large and complex that an eighth district seat is needed, and council members need more time to govern before running for re-election.

Others, like Republican council member Tariq Bokhari, have said no residents have ever told him they want longer mayor and council terms.

If approved by the council on Monday, the changes would be placed on the ballot, and voters would have the final say in a November referendum. The changes would only take effect with voter approval.

The second big item on Monday's agenda is a public hearing on the city's proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, which the public got its first look at last week.

The $3.3 billion budget would lower the city's property tax rate from about 35 cents per $100 in valuation to about 26 cents. That would be the lowest rate of the 15 largest cities in North Carolina.

Still, most homeowners will see higher bills than last year because residential property values soared in the latest revaluation. Residents would also pay higher fees for solid waste, water and sewer.

The budget also includes raises for city workers — the largest being 8% raises for police officers, sergeants and some firefighters. City Manager Marcus Jones has said the raises will help combat a growing vacancy rate in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The budget also includes $6 million to establish an arts and culture plan, and money to expand the city's Alternatives to Violence program into the West Boulevard and Nations Ford / Arrowood areas.

Monday night's city council hearing starts at 6:30 p.m.

I-85 south reopens following seven-car crash Sunday near Concord

Posted May 7, 2023 at 11:59 AM EDT

A portion of I-85 south near Concord has reopened following a multi-vehicle crash involving at least seven vehicles early Sunday morning.

The crash was reported around 6 a.m. and shut down several lanes near Exit 48. Three people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to Mecklenburg County EMS.

The interstate was reopened around 7:30 a.m., according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

One dead in crash involving car, scooter in uptown Charlotte

Posted May 7, 2023 at 9:51 AM EDT

Police in Charlotte say a person has died in a crash in uptown Charlotte on Saturday night involving a vehicle and a scooter.

The crash was reported shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday near the Bank of America stadium, where crowds had gathered for the start of the Charlotte FC Major League Soccer game against New York City.

A photo of the scene taken by WSOC reporter Hunter Saenz showed crime scene tape blocking off the intersection of Mint Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard as police officers examined an electric Bird scooter lying in the roadway.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department did not release any additional details, including the identities of the people involved, or whether any arrests had been made.

Police reopened the intersection shortly before 9 p.m., according to a tweet from CMPD.

State Board of Education will hold meeting on Monday about Eastside Stream Academy's charter status

Posted May 5, 2023 at 12:48 PM EDT

The State Board of Education will meet for a special session to clarify and affirm its vote on the appeals panel recommendation against renewing Eastside Stream Academy's charter.

The K-8 charter school that opened in 2013 is one of 38 schools up for renewal of charter status and funding. The school has had low performance in school leadership, turmoil and fiscal management.

The session will be held virtually on Monday at 1PM

New law will accelerate the process for teenagers acquiring a driver's license

Posted May 5, 2023 at 12:47 PM EDT

Governor Roy Cooper says he will allow a bill to accelerate the process for teenagers to get their driver’s licenses to become law without his signature.

Cooper feels that the new bill is a step in the wrong direction for motorist safety.

“I have concerns that this law could make our roads less safe and I encourage the Division of Motor Vehicles and the legislature to monitor its effects closely,” Cooper said in a statement Friday.

People under 18 will now be able to get their provisional drivers licenses after holding a learners permit for nine months, instead of the previous 12. The time had been temporarily shortened during the pandemic to help deal with a backlog at the DMV.

Pilot, passenger survive after plane ends up in the Catawba River

Posted May 5, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT

The York County Sheriff’s office says deputies and emergency personnel are on the scene near Charlie Horse Lane in Rock Hill following reports that an airplane has landed in the Catawba River. In a tweet, the sheriff’s office said the pilot and a passenger are "OK" and out of the plane, but the plane is still in the river as of midday Friday.

Carolina Panthers seeking big money for renovations — not a new stadium

Posted May 4, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT

The Carolina Panthers are proposing a major renovation of Bank of America Stadium, instead of tearing it down and building a new stadium, two Charlotte City Council members tell WFAE.

Council members have been discussing in closed sessions this year the future of the stadium — and how much money the city might spend.

Two council members speaking on the condition of anonymity say that the Panthers aren’t considering building a new stadium, but are instead looking at a renovation that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The renovation would not include building a dome and making it an indoor stadium.

One council member said the reasoning behind the stadium improvements would be for the city to handle more non-football events. Since David Tepper became owner of the Panthers in 2018, he has added Major League Soccer as a stadium tenant and increased the number of concerts.

On Tuesday, Mecklenburg legislators introduced a bill in the state House that would extend two local tourism taxes, allowing them to be collected until 2060. The first is a 1% tax on prepared food and beverages, which, by state law, can be used to pay for stadium renovations. That tax is expected to generate $47 million in the upcoming year.

The other tax is a 2% tax on hotel and motel rooms that’s dedicated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

WSOC-TV first reported the detailed stadium discussions Thursday. It said the Panthers are proposing spending $1.2 billion — with the public contributing $600 million. The station also reported that the team might build a new practice facility on the site of the team’s open-air practice fields near the stadium.

The Panthers had started construction on a new headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill. But that project fell apart after a dispute over how much money the city would contribute to the project.

The most recent NFL stadium deal is in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans have announced plans for a new $2.1 billion indoor stadium. The city will contribute $760 million and the state will spend $500 million. The team would spend $840 million.

Bank of America Stadium opened in 1996.

Raccoon in south Charlotte tests positive for rabies

Posted May 4, 2023 at 2:35 PM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says a raccoon has tested positive for rabies in south Charlotte. It was found near Waterford Drive, across from Carmel Country Club. Three pets are confirmed to have been exposed, police say, though not any people. The raccoon is the 13th animal to test positive for rabies so far this year. Anyone with questions or concerns about being exposed to rabies can call 980-314-9210.

CMPD arrests suspect in street takeovers — and confiscates his Mustang

Posted May 4, 2023 at 11:33 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they’ve arrested a suspect in numerous street takeover events. Ethan Copeland, 20, has been charged with two counts of reckless driving as well as a felony count of fleeing to elude. CMPD says Copeland fled on foot when they located him Wednesday. Police say they also confiscated Copeland’s Ford Mustang.

Street takeovers have been a growing problem in Charlotte — including in uptown — and usually involve drivers blocking streets to do doughnuts and burnouts while others gather around to cheer them on and often record the incidents on their phones.

Checkers avoid playoff elimination

Posted May 4, 2023 at 6:51 AM EDT

The Charlotte Checkers lived to fight another day in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs last night, downing the Hershey Bears 2-1.

Charlotte tails two games to one in the best-of-five series. Game four is tonight at 7 in Pennsylvania.

NC Board of Education considers new school grading system, mental health unit

Posted May 3, 2023 at 5:13 PM EDT

The North Carolina Board of Education is working on plans to replace the state’s A through F grades for measuring school performance with a more comprehensive system.

The new system would take into account eight wide-ranging factors, such as a school’s graduation rate, whether students participate in extracurricular activities and whether students are ready for a job, college or the military when they graduate.

Michael Maher, the state’s deputy superintendent of standards accountability and research, told the board meeting in Charlotte on Wednesday that the new measures will better reflect school quality.

"The eight that we have here both better reflect and respect the work that school leaders and teachers do every day," Maher said. "It's not just about standardized test scores, which is all we are really right now."

A pilot program for the new school ratings should be in place next year.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Board of Education heard a school safety update from Karen Fairley, the executive director of the North Carolina Center for School Safety.

Fairley told the board her agency plans to form a mental health unit that could rewrite training materials and disciplinary guidelines statewide. The unit would have a director and three mental health professionals, Fairley said.

State lawmakers would need to approve funding for the unit.

Fairley also said she hopes to reduce disparities in student discipline. State data shows Black students are suspended more than three times as often as White students. Fairley said more de-escalation training and better disciplinary guidelines could reduce that disparity.

The state board of education's Charlotte meeting continues Thursday with a discussion about eligibility rules for transgender athletes.

Gov. Cooper says he'll veto 12-week abortion restrictions

Posted May 3, 2023 at 2:00 PM EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper says he will veto a proposed 12 week abortion ban that’s sailing through the N.C. General Assembly. On Tuesday, Republican legislative leaders agreed to ban abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy rather than the current law of 20 weeks. Votes in the House and Senate are expected by the end of the week; Republicans will be able to override Cooper's veto because they hold a supermajority.

North Carolina High School Athletic Association approves NIL eligibility for NC High School athletes

Posted May 3, 2023 at 11:11 AM EDT

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association voted 15-3 on Wednesday to approve name, image and likeness deal eligibility for state high school students. Just like college athletes, players at the high school level will now be allowed to profit from autographs, appearances and sponsorship deals.

North Carolina will become the 28th state to allow NIL for high school athletes. The policy will take effect on July 1.

High school athletes will soon be able to ink sponsorship deals in NC

Posted May 3, 2023 at 11:09 AM EDT

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association voted 15-3 on Wednesday to approve name, image and likeness deal eligibility for state high school students. Just like college athletes, players at the high school level will now be allowed to profit from autographs, appearances and sponsorship deals. North Carolina will become the 28th state to allow NIL for high school athletes.

The policy will take effect on July 1.

CMPD investigating death in the Fourth Ward after condo fire

Posted May 2, 2023 at 5:44 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a death uptown after a condo fire in Fourth Ward on Tuesday afternoon that sent smoke spilling into the sky over Charlotte's center city.

The Charlotte Fire Department responded on Tuesday to several calls about smoke and flames coming from a residential building in the 400 block of West 8th Street. Just after 1:25 pm, CFD Ladder 1 reported heavy fire coming from the 3rd floor of the condo. CFD called a total of 60 firefighters at the scene and the crews brought the fire under control after an hour.

Police also responded to the scene to help assist the fire department. After the fire was put out, first responders searched the building and found one person dead. The name of the person has not been released at this time. Four condos were impacted, firefighters said.

No other information has been released at this time. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS

North Carolina High School Athletic Association will vote on high school athlete NIL eligibility

Posted May 2, 2023 at 5:10 PM EDT

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) held the first day of their Spring Board of Directors meeting Tuesday afternoon. One of the big agenda items was a proposal to allow name, likeness and image (NIL) deals for North Carolina high school athletes.

NIL grants athletes the ability to profit from autographs, appearances and sponsorship deals without penalty.

If the committee approves the proposal to allow state high school students to be eligible, NC would become the 28th state to allow NIL for high school athletes.

Tod Morgan, vice chair of the NCHSSA policy committee, said discussions have taken place since December.

"NIL has been a discussion item for our board and policy committee for the past few years," Morgan said. "At the winter board meeting, our policy committee recommended our NCHSA staff form a NIL committee to review and create a NIL policy."

NCHSAA officials are expected to vote Wednesday. If approved, NIL could become effective July 1.

Johnston YMCA in NoDa to close

Posted May 2, 2023 at 3:29 PM EDT

The Johnston YMCA in the NoDa neighborhood will be closing its doors at the end of the year.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte announced Tuesday that the Johnston property on North Davidson Street will be sold to a developer, and there will be no future YMCA facilities on the site.

According to a statement, the Y originally hoped to maintain a physical branch on the site, but ultimately axed that idea due to the organization’s overall financial needs.

The Y will be working with Johnston Y staff members to determine their desired interests in available positions at other Y facilities.

The organization anticipates the Johnston Y to operate through the end of this year, and said summer camps and other programs won’t be affected. The Y didn’t disclose who’s agreed to buy the site.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools delays plan for new superintendent hire

Posted May 2, 2023 at 9:56 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board no longer expects to hire a new superintendent by May 9, as planned.

The board interviewed six candidates for the top job. Summer Nunn, who chairs the search committee, says the field was so strong her colleagues could only agree to eliminate two of them.

"We’ve got experience, and it’s making our job tough in a good way," she said.

Second interviews with the four remaining finalists will start Thursday evening and end Sunday afternoon. The schedule calls for approving a contract with a new superintendent at Tuesday’s board meeting, but Nunn says: "It is highly unlikely (laughs) that we’re ready to go May 9, is what I’ll tell you. Because we need to spend a lot of time after the second round deliberating and figuring out what’s best for us."

She says it could be later next week or the week after before the board agrees on a candidate and negotiates a contract.

Owner of Charlotte auto repair shop sentenced to a year in prison for violation of the Clean Air Act

Posted May 2, 2023 at 9:22 AM EDT

A 59-year old Charlotte man named Jamal Saymeh has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for violating the Clean Air Act, federal prosecutors said Monday.

From 2017 to 2022 as the owner of Friendly Auto Repair shop in Charlotte, Saymeh fraudulently coded over 15,000 vehicles that would have normally failed North Carolina state emissions inspections. According to prosecutors, he will have to pay $1,202,289 in fines and $82,026 in restitution to the state.

The Charlotte auto shop became licensed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in 2017 to conduct inspections. From 2017 to 2022, Saymeh violated the Clean Air Act by falsifying the information of cars that he inspected so they would not have to take the emission test again.

“As part of my Office’s Environmental Justice Initiative, we will hold polluters accountable for their actions and protect communities harmed by environmental violations. Today, Jamal Saymeh faced the consequences of knowingly and intentionally making false material statements affecting an EPA program,” Special Agent in Charge Michael Sparks said in a statement.

According to prosecutors, Saymeh completed the scheme by doing what the court calls “county swaps” which is falsifying vehicle registrations in counties where an emissions test wasn’t required.

Saymeh also received cash payments from his customers that were more expensive than the normal rate of a test. He also paid the state $0.85 per test instead of the $6.25 for an inspection.

City of Charlotte proposed budget has no property tax increase

Posted May 1, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT

Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones’ proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year doesn’t include a property tax increase.

In the most recent property revaluation, released this year, residential property increased at a much higher rate than commercial property.

That means homeowners will pay a greater share of the tax bill — regardless of where the city and Mecklenburg County set their tax rates — because they now account for a greater piece of the total pie. Businesses overall will pay less than they do now.

But Charlotte’s proposed $833 million general fund budget has a “revenue-neutral” property tax rate. That means the city will collect the same total amount of money as in the previous year, not including additional money that comes from new homes and businesses that have been built.

With inflation still high, the budget focuses on pay raises for city employees.

Hourly employees will get a 6% pay hike. Salaried workers will get a 4% bump.

And there’s been a special emphasis on hiring and retaining police officers.

The current starting pay for a police officer with a four-year degree is $56,600. That would go up to nearly $63,000.

The city is also boosting the top salary for officers as well. It’s now a little more than $90,000 — and would go up to nearly $100,000. Council will vote on the budget before the next fiscal year begins in July.

There is a public hearing on the budget set for May 8.

CMS board will interview four superintendent finalists behind closed doors this week

Posted May 1, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has scheduled closed-door meetings this week to interview four finalists for superintendent.

Interviews will be held Thursday evening, Saturday and Sunday at the Government Center. The board hopes to approve a contract with the new superintendent next Tuesday.

The board does not plan to disclose any information about the finalists until one is chosen, on the advice of their search consultants.

Eastland Mall site: Proposals for Target store, aquatic center get the ax

Posted May 1, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT

The city of Charlotte Monday recommended against moving forward with building a new Target store and an aquatic center on the site of the old Eastland Mall.

City staff told the city’s economic development committee that it wants to continue evaluating three proposals: One would be focused on racquet sports, with tennis and pickleball courts. Another would be an e-sports and concert venue.

And the third is a new proposal — a publicly funded indoor, multi-use sports building.

All would require the city to spend significant taxpayer dollars.

City Council member Tariq Bokhari is an investor in the e-sports proposal. He has said he would not vote on the proposal.

City Council member Marjorie Molina, who represents the area, said she’s not happy with any of the remaining proposals.

"As the district rep, I don’t feel comfortable with any of the proposals that are currently on the table," she said. "And I beg of the people that I serve to give us just a little bit more time to have some responsive conversations around what we can bring to east Charlotte."

Crosland Southeast is redeveloping most of the Eastland site with retail and new homes. But there are 29 acres on the eastern part of the site with no plans for development after Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper’s company pulled out of plans to build a soccer academy there.

American Airlines pilots protest outside CLT after voting to authorize strike

Posted May 1, 2023 at 2:49 PM EDT

American Airlines pilots picketed outside Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday, after the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing those pilots, voted this weekend to authorize a strike.

The event was part of a national event in 10 cities, including Charlotte, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and others.

The union is the bargaining agent for 15,000 pilots at American Airlines negotiating a new contract they say will help end uncertainty and scheduling unreliability.

Charlotte YMCA president to retire

Posted May 1, 2023 at 2:47 PM EDT

President and CEO of the YMCA Greater Charlotte Stan Law on Monday announced his plans to retire after 30 years.

Law, who is a Charlotte native, worked in several YMCA leadership positions including Washington D.C., Birmingham and Winston Salem before working in his hometown.

He joined the local YMCA in January 2022, and his final day will be June 2.

Voters will need to show ID for Charlotte's upcoming elections

Posted May 1, 2023 at 2:40 PM EDT

You’ll have to show some ID to vote in Charlotte’s upcoming municipal elections, one of the first contests in the state where the rules will be enacted.

State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon said Monday that the board is working on how to roll out the requirements after Friday’s state Supreme Court decision.

The Republican-led majority overturned an earlier ruling that had put implementation of the state’s 2018 voter ID law on hold.

The state is still clarifying exactly what types of IDs will be accepted, according to Gannon.

Charlotte’s municipal primaries for mayor and city council are scheduled for Sept. 12.

NC Supreme Court overturns voting rights decisions
The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday overturned two previous decisions on voting rights. One involves political gerrymandering. The other is about photo ID. WFAE political reporter Steve Harrison spoke with Gwendolyn Glenn about the rulings on All Things Considered.

Charlotte City Council to hear updates on CATS, Eastland ahead of budget presentation tonight

Posted May 1, 2023 at 6:49 AM EDT

The Charlotte City Council has a full schedule on this first day of May. Tonight at 6 p..m., City Manager Marcus Jones will present his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year to the full council.

All four of the council’s committees are meeting with the Transportation, Planning and Development Council this morning at 10 a.m. They will get an update on the continuing issues with the Charlotte Area Transit System from Councilmember Ed Driggs and Assistant City Manager Brent Cagle, who’s serving as CATS' interim CEO.

At noon, the Budget Committee will discuss ways to enhance the evaluation process for appointed staff.

At 2 p.m., the Jobs and Economic Development Committee will get an update on proposals for 20 acres at the former Eastland Mall site.

And at 4 p.m., the Housing Safety and Community Committee will hear a presentation about "A Home For All," an initiative started two years ago to address homelessness and affordable housing.

Food, music featured at Sunday's Cinco de Mayo festival in Plaza Midwood

Posted April 30, 2023 at 8:42 AM EDT

Streets will close down around Plaza Midwood on Sunday afternoon for a Cinco de Mayo festival, featuring food, drink, music and dance.

The free event will take place on May 7, on Commonwealth Avenue and Thomas Avenue, and will run from noon-6 p.m.

The event will include performances from local bands featuring mariachi, Latin reggae, Mexican cumbia and electronic-banda fusion music.

In addition, the festival will have a piñata and maraca-making station, a dog costume contest and booths selling beer and Michelada.

The event is organized by Norsan Media, which operates the Spanish-language newspaper Hola News Charlotte, Spanish-language radio stations La Raza 106.1-FM and Latina Tu Música 102.3-FM, and local television station Estrella TV.

Christale Spain elected first Black chairwoman of SC Democratic Party

Posted April 29, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT

South Carolina Democrats have elected Christale Spain to become the first Black woman to lead the state party as chair.

Spain won the party’s election in Colombia on Saturday. The State newspaper reports Spain won 686 votes of the roughly 1,300 delegates. She beat two other competitors for the spot, activist Catherine Fleming Bruce and Brandon Upson, chair of the party's Black caucus. Former chair Trav Robertson declined to seek reelection.

Spain's victory will give her control over the 2024 Democratic presidential primary. South Carolina will be the first state to hold a Democratic primary in 2024, following a change by the national Democratic Party.

South Carolina Democrats also made history Saturday by electing their first non-binary 1st vice chair, Colleen Condon, and their first Hispanic 2nd vice chair, Michelle Brandt.

Cornelius officer resigns following arrest in Mecklenburg County

Posted April 29, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT

A Cornelius police officer has resigned after Cornelius police say he was arrested on charges related to an investigation by the York County Sheriff’s Office.

Erickson Lee, 25, was arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police about 10 p.m. on Friday, according to a release by the Cornelius Police Department.

Lee is facing possible extradition to another state, according to information listed on the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website, though it’s unclear on what charges.

In a statement, the Cornelius Police Department said it "holds our officers to the highest professional standards both on and off duty. Any officer who does not conform to these standards will be held accountable when they fail to meet those standards."

CMPD to host free steering wheel lock giveaway for Kia and Hyundai owners Saturday

Posted April 28, 2023 at 1:22 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will host a free steering wheel lock giveaway for Hyundai and Kia owners on Saturday, April 29 at the Walmart at 3200 Wilkinson Boulevard in Charlotte, from 12 pm to 2pm.

CMPD will have wheel locks for Hyundai and Kia vehicles with keys from 2011-2021. Push start vehicles do not apply. To get one you must have a vehicle registration and be a Mecklenburg County resident. CMPD has 1, 000 locks to give away, and they will be given on a first come first serve basis.

Kia and Hyundai thefts in the Charlotte area continue to rise: both manufacturers make up half of the 1,468 vehicles stolen this year. At this point in 2022, there were only 26 thefts of either make combined.

CMPD Major Luke Sell attributed this to the ongoing Tiktok social media challenge. Nearly all those arrested in these thefts have been juveniles, CMPD says.

NC lawmakers want to ban businesses from not taking cash

Posted April 28, 2023 at 10:06 AM EDT

North Carolina House lawmakers want to stop businesses from refusing to accept cash payments. Some shops and restaurants have gone cashless, requiring people to pay with a credit card. Republican Representative Brenden Jones says that discriminates against people who don’t have access to a bank account.

"Folks have went in to get things as simple as a ham sandwich and a Coke with $5, and they’ve been turned away," he said.

The bill passed its first committee hearing on Thursday.

Still in secrecy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board narrows superintendent candidates

Posted April 28, 2023 at 10:04 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board wrapped up its online interviews with six superintendent candidates Thursday night. The board will gather in person this afternoon at 3 p.m. to narrow the field to two or three finalists who will get in-person interviews. All discussion about candidates will take place in closed session, as required by North Carolina law.

The goal is to approve a contract for a new superintendent at the board’s May 9 meeting.

CATS plans to cut streetcar service hours

Posted April 27, 2023 at 2:19 PM EDT

The Charlotte Area Transit System said Wednesday it may cut some early-morning and late-night service on the Gold Line streetcar to make sure it has enough people working in the Rail Operations Control Center.

The streetcar runs seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.

CATS said ridership is low at the beginning and end of the service, and that it may need to trim a few hours to make sure it has enough staff at the control facility, known as the ROCC.

Last month, the state made a surprise inspection of the ROCC and said there was only controller working there. It said CATS needed at least two people working at all times - one to monitor the Lynx Blue Line, and the other to monitor the Gold Line.

If it doesn’t have at least two controllers, The N.C. Department of Transportation said CATSt would need to shut down one of the train lines.

“One way to help with the workload of the controllers is to trim some of the service - a couple of hours in the evening and maybe an hour in the morning,” said CATS planner Jason Lawrence.

The streetcar runs from Johnson C. Smith University, through uptown and to the edge of Plaza Midwood.

It carries about 1,900 passenger trips on the average weekday. The light-rail line carries about 15,000.

NC House calls for federal recognition of Lumbee Tribe

Posted April 27, 2023 at 1:30 PM EDT

The North Carolina House has passed a resolution calling for federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe. Since 1956, the tribe based in Robeson County has been denied full recognition given to other American Indian groups. Representative Jarrod Lowery is the only Lumbee member of the state legislature.

"You know, we sit all the time and we hear at diners and at home that Congress, that Washington can’t never get nothing right. This is our chance to ask Washington to get something right, to correct an injustice they created in 1956," Lowery said.

The proposal faces opposition from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who want the Lumbee Tribe to go through the current, more stringent process of having the Department of Interior make that decision, instead of leaving it up to Congress.

Piedmont Natural Gas conducting infrastructure maintenance with flare stack

Posted April 27, 2023 at 11:17 AM EDT

If you see a tall flame or hear an unusual loud noise near certain Charlotte neighborhoods for the next few days, you don’t have to call 911 this time.

Piedmont Natural Gas will be conducting infrastructure maintenance near 3000 C Avenue, in the Wilson Heights area. That's about two-and-a-half miles northwest of uptown.

The natural gas company will use a flare stack, which is a large vertical pipe. The pipe will produce a tall flame that will be visible in the area and also produce the smell of natural gas. This will occur from today until Tuesday, May 2.

Duke Energy

Antisemitic, racist vandalism at Davidson College outdoor classroom

Posted April 27, 2023 at 10:30 AM EDT

An investigation is underway at Davidson College after a racist and antisemitic image with a threatening message was found on a blackboard in an outdoor classroom over the weekend.

In a statement, college officials, including President Doug Hicks, called the image a “threatening act and an affront to the sense of community that binds us.”

The college said its campus police are increasing their visibility with additional patrols around outdoor classrooms to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.

Davidson is also making counselors available to students, along with teams from the Center of Student Diversity and Inclusion and the Chaplain’s Office.

The vandalism involved a blackboard near the Alvarez College Union with slurs, swastikas, a drawing of Hitler in chalk and a handwritten message about killing minorities, the college said.

Panthers set to make top pick in tonight's NFL draft

Posted April 27, 2023 at 7:00 AM EDT

The 2023 NFL draft begins Thursday night, and the Carolina Panthers have the top overall pick.

Most draft analysts still expect the Panthers to select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, but coach Frank Reich notes that the team has five other picks. Reich said at a press conference this week that general manager Scott Fitterer and his staff have been going over all the options for weeks.

"We've had several draft meetings with the coaches, but more recently, you know, had them in there, (with Fitterer) kind of running the meetings, getting the coaches final opinion," Reich said. "The scouts have already done, you know, 90% of the work. But the coaches kind of come in and we give our evaluation, we meld it together with what the scouts have done. You know, we start wrapping our minds around that 39th pick, you know, and around that 93rd pick."

The team is widely expected to select Young, but Reich said even though team officials know who they want, it wasn’t necessarily an easy choice.

"The conviction built gradually for us as coaches because the scouts were ahead of us," Reich said. "I mean, the scouts were ahead of us. They had already done all their work. So as coaches, as we dug in, our conviction started to build slowly but surely."

During veteran minicamp activities this week, Reich said that with a new staff, it's a good time for a young player to get a fresh start with the team.

"It's a new offense," he said. "So really, it's new to the whole team, it's not just gonna be new to the rookie quarterback. So, we're all kind of starting from the ground floor up and, you know, really the vets get a couple of weeks ahead of them over the rookies, but, you know, they'll come in and catch up quickly."

The draft starts at 8 p.m., and there’s a draft party at Bank of America Stadium starting at 6:30 p.m. Graham Street will be closed from 6-9 p.m. between Mint Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The second and third rounds of the draft will take place Friday, followed by rounds four through seven on Saturday. The Panthers have six total picks, but trades during the draft could change that number.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman out 3-4 weeks after sprint car crash

Posted April 26, 2023 at 3:11 PM EDT

Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman will be sidelined with a back injury for the next 3-4 weeks. He fractured his vertebra in a sprint car crash Tuesday night.

The team announced Wednesday that he will replaced by JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry. Berry recently replaced Chase Elliott for five races after he broke his leg in a snowboarding accident.

Berry will drive the No. 48 entry this weekend at Dover Motor Speedway. Hendrick will request a medical waiver from NASCAR to allow Bowman to stay playoff eligible.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control waiving adoption fees for National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

Posted April 26, 2023 at 11:43 AM EDT

Got a kid who's been begging for a new cat or dog? This weekend, Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control is participating in National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.

That means the shelter will waive all adoption fees for cats and dogs from Friday, April 28, through Sunday, April 30. On Saturday, local pet vendors will be at the shelter as well.

CMPD
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control

Former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver speech at UNC Chapel Hill tonight

Posted April 26, 2023 at 11:34 AM EDT

Former Vice President Mike Pence will visit UNC Chapel hill tonight to give a speech titled “Saving America from the Woke Left.”

Pence will speak at the Carolina Great Union Hall and there will be a Q&A session. Some student groups are expected to protest. 

The event is free of charge and also available to watch online on the Young America's Foundation YouTube page at 7p.m.

CMS board approves $2.1 billion budget proposal that doesn't restore magnet buses

Posted April 26, 2023 at 9:20 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved a $2.1 billion proposed operating budget on Tuesday night. The budget includes one-time COVID federal funding of $227 million for the coming year. The proposed budget asks for nearly $597 million from Mecklenburg County. That's an increase of $39 million — or 7% — over last year’s appropriation.

But the board did not eliminate a controversial plan to consolidate magnet school bus stops from its budget, despite requests from parents. Staff and board members said all available money will go toward salary increases.

Board member Lenora Shipp said the school system needs to increase funding for staff to retain them.

"So I’m really glad that we continue to do all that we can to invest in our people. Because when we talk about student outcomes it’s all about great teachers in the classrooms, administrators and support staff making it happen," said Shipp.

Several board members have said previously that requiring high school magnet students to go to bus stops up to three miles from home will reduce access to the specialized programs. But staff say the streamlining is only partly about money. They say CMS needs to eliminate routes because the district can’t hire enough drivers.

At this point, the CMS budget plan is only an estimate. The district’s actual spending will depend on decisions from Mecklenburg County commissioners and the General Assembly.

Lagoona Bay developer hosting public forum tonight in Huntersville

Posted April 26, 2023 at 8:01 AM EDT

Developers of a proposed beach resort-style project in Huntersville are holding a community forum tonight.

The 270-acre project would be off Sam Furr Road east of I-77 and include a hotel, apartments, townhomes and condominiums as well as a 10-acre recreational lagoon.

Huntersville has scheduled a rezoning hearing for next month. The forum tonight from developers is set for 6:30 at Bright Kids Learning Academy on University City Church Drive.

Former eight-term Albemarle mayor Whitley dies at 89

Posted April 26, 2023 at 6:56 AM EDT

Former Albemarle Mayor Elbert “Whit” Whitley, Jr., passed away yesterday.

Whitley was born and raised in Albemarle and attended Duke University. Upon his graduation from college, he served his country in the Armed Forces in Frankfurt, Germany.

He served on the Albemarle City Council from 1965 to 1969, then went on to serve four terms as Mayor from 1969 to 1977, and four additional terms from 2005 to 2013.

Flags at all City facilities have been lowered in remembrance of Whitley. Funeral arrangements are pending. Whitley was 89.

NC House committee OKs bill that would require school threat assessment teams

Posted April 25, 2023 at 5:51 PM EDT

The North Carolina House Education Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would require all public schools to create threat assessment teams. With a renewed focus on school shootings, the goal is to bring together teachers, counselors, coaches, school resource officers and anyone else who might notice changes in student behavior that could signal trouble.

Lead sponsor John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican, said the teams would identify students who might harm themselves or others – or who simply need support in a personal crisis.

"It’s been proven that by implementation of this it can reduce the cause of one taking their own life, which is a huge issue that we’re addressing," Torbett said. "It reduces bullying. It reduces anything that impacts a child to put that child in an unsafe place. "

The bill also requires schools to create peer support teams for grades six and up, though fellow students would not be expected to size up threats. The committee approved the proposal on a voice vote. It would require approval by the full House and Senate to become law.

At State Energy Conference, speakers say cities need to push through challenges to their climate goals

Posted April 25, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
Charlotte sustainability director Sarah Hazel speaks at the State Energy Conference in Raleigh Tuesday.
David Boraks
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WFAE
Charlotte sustainability director Sarah Hazel speaks at the State Energy Conference in Raleigh Tuesday.

The city of Charlotte has a goal for its municipal buildings and vehicles to be carbon neutral by 2030. But officials say we likely won't get there, and Charlotte is not alone in acknowledging it won't meet its climate goals. Other communities are facing the same challenges, according to speakers on a panel at the State Energy Conference in Raleigh today(TUES).

Those challenges include a lack of funding, difficulty in obtaining electric vehicles, solar equipment shortages and in some cases a lack of local authority.

Charlotte sustainability director Sarah Hazel said afterward that communities just need to keep pushing forward.

"We need to do all the things that we can … and propose all the things we can to get as far as we can and be able to say why it is if we can't get there that we can't get there," Hazel said.

Besides Hazel, the panel included sustainability directors from Cary, Fort Bragg and Buncombe County.

The conference continues Wednesday morning with a discussion of the state's energy policy and an address by Governor Roy Cooper at 9:45 a.m.

Mecklenburg County proposes eliminating several fees, raising others

Posted April 25, 2023 at 1:20 PM EDT

Mecklenburg County Commissioners are considering changes to what facilities — and how much — the county charges people to use. The county is proposing eliminating several fees, including those for:

  • Indoor playgrounds
  • Corporate Wellness Memberships
  • Birthday Party Packages
  • Special Event Facility Rental (Entire Pool)
  • 3-month Pool Pass (Youth & Adult)
  • Small & Medium Park Rentals — These would be replaced with a standardized rate of $100 an hour for all parks, eliminating distinctions between small, medium and large parks.

Park and Recreation Director Lee Jones said eliminating park size distinctions (small- and medium-sized parks now rent for $52 and $75 an hour, respectively) would streamline the process.
"We're changing our rental fee so that we won't break it down to this small area and then determine what a small it is because all of our parks are different," he said. "We're not Savannah where everything is a square and everything is the same size or everything is different. So we're erring on the, looking at what we've rented out mostly which has been, spaces an acre or larger. And instead of trying to say, well, this is small, this is a medium is large, we'll just have the uniform fee."

Other fees, such as air quality permits for facilities that pollute and storm water charges, would increase under the county's proposal.

North Carolina Department of Instruction to hold appeal hearing for Eastside Stream Academy

Posted April 25, 2023 at 12:35 PM EDT

The North Carolina Department of Instruction has called an independent appeal hearing for an east Charlotte charter school that faces closure.

Eastside Stream Academy, a K-8 charter school that opened up in 2013, is among 38 schools up for renewal of charter status and funding. Due to low performance at the school leadership turmoil and fiscal management, the state board recommended terminating the school's charter.

The appeal session will be held virtually on Thursday in Raleigh at 10:30 am.

Piedmont Natural Gas to cut rates starting next month

Posted April 25, 2023 at 11:42 AM EDT

Falling natural gas prices are bringing another rate cut for Piedmont Natural Gas customers. The new rates will show up on customers’ May 1st bills, under the plan approved by North Carolina regulators. Piedmont says the typical residential customer will save $2.37 per month, or $28.40 per year. It's the company's third rate cut this year.

Davidson Commissioners to discuss social districts tonight

Posted April 25, 2023 at 10:48 AM EDT

Davidson Town Commissioners will discuss adding two social districts at its meeting tonight that would allow businesses to sell alcoholic beverages to customers who can drink them within the district – not just inside the business. Current proposals call for one district along Main Street. The other would be on Jetton Street.

The districts would operate seven days a week from 11am to 10pm. No vote on the plans is expected until the May 9th meeting.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6.

Charlotte City Council approves nearly $24 million for new affordable housing developments

Posted April 25, 2023 at 10:31 AM EDT

The Charlotte City Council on Monday approved $23.6 million for eight affordable housing projects that are expected to create a combined 625 new units. More than 580 of those units would be rentals. Council member Dimple Ajmera acknowledged that many of the affordable housing projects approved for funding won't be built and available to live in for years, even though the need is immediate.

"You know, we often get asked, I know you just approved affordable housing. Now, when are we going to see the affordable housing for those who actually are looking for housing? Now there is a dire need for it," she said.

The eight projects are spread around the city, including in Ballantyne, Wendover, and east and north Charlotte. Funding would be a mix of federal dollars and local dollars from the Housing Trust Fund, which voters approve through bond issues every two years.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has estimated the Charlotte region still needs some 49,000 affordable units for extremely low-income renters.

Fire damages several buildings in downtown Statesville

Posted April 25, 2023 at 7:00 AM EDT

Firefighters are still on the scene in downtown Statesville this morning where WJZY reports multiple buildings have been destroyed.

WBTV reports the fire started around 2:15 a.m. in the building that is home to GG’s Gift Shop. No one was believed to be inside at the time, according to fire crews.

Center Street was closed near Broad Street and emergency crews are urging people to avoid the area. Iredell County officials say the fire was under control at 5:45 this morning but four buildings have been severely damaged.

In a statement to the Hickory Record, Liz Petree with the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation said there has been significant damage to several buildings including GG's, Merrill Lynch, and Theatre Statesville.

No word yet on what started the fire.

Poor road maintenance costs NC drivers money, report says

Posted April 24, 2023 at 4:05 PM EDT

A new report says a third of North Carolina's roads are in poor condition. The report was prepared by TRIP, a Washington D-C based transportation non-profit. On average, the report says North Carolina drivers pay an extra $484 a year in repairs, tires, and fuel due to poorly-maintained roads.

North Carolina will receive nearly $14 billion for transportation from state and federal sources over the next decade. TRIP says those investments won't keep pace with inflation. A bill in the state Senate will bring in more revenue by charging higher registration fees for electric cars and removing a tax cap on commercial vehicles.

Gaston superintendent’s resignation letter: Education is at a crossroads

Posted April 24, 2023 at 3:54 PM EDT

The letter of resignation Gaston County Superintendent Jeff Booker gave his school board last week doesn’t say why he’s quitting or where he’s going. But it does talk about public education “at a critical crossroads.”

“There are many challenges facing Gaston County Schools, other school systems, and the general direction of public schools,” Booker wrote. “The politicization of education; increased competition; disparities in socioeconomics; a testing/accountability model that does not reflect student achievement accurately; and regulations, laws and rules that seem to hinder, not help schools are just a few of the issues that need attention sooner than later in order to maintain public education as we know it and ensure that it has a bright future.”

Booker has worked for Gaston County Schools since 2009 and became superintendent in late 2013. He told the board of his resignation in a closed meeting April 17. A news release posted the following day says Booker recently turned 60 and is ready to “transition to a new career opportunity.”

WFAE got the resignationletter through a public information request. Communications chief Todd Hagans says there was no severance agreement. In addition to the issues Booker wrote about, Gaston County Schools are also dealing with a payroll problem that’s led hundreds of educators to complain their wages aren’t being paid correctly since switching software in January 2022.

CMPD detectives searching for missing teenage girl

Posted April 24, 2023 at 3:32 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are seeking help to find a missing teenage girl.

CMPD detectives are looking for 17-year old Cesia Sarahy Enamorado Matheu, who was last seen on November 28, 2022 at the 1800 block of Jeffrey Brian Drive. She is 5’2 and weighs around 140 pounds .She has long black hair and brown eyes.

If anyone has seen her or has any information, CMPD is asking them to call 911 immediately.

CMPD investigating a fatal crash in Eastway

Posted April 24, 2023 at 10:14 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a fatal vehicle crash in the Eastway area.

On Thursday, officers responded around 10:13 pm to the 100 block of Eastway Drive for a call about a vehicle crash with injuries. When officers arrived, they found a Nissan Rogue on the right side of the roadway with extensive damage. Paramedics pronounced 34-year old Luis Adrian Garcia dead at the scene.

According to the initial investigation, officers determined Garcia was driving north on Eastway Drive above the speed limit. Garcia veered off the road sending his Nissan airborne, and it landed it collided with a sign. Officers said speeding and impairment are potential causes of the crash.

CMPD asks anyone with information or who saw the wreck to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Police: 8-year-old girl shot in west Charlotte

Posted April 24, 2023 at 5:54 AM EDT

An 8-year-old girl has "life-threatening injuries" after being shot early Monday in a west Charlotte neighborhood, police say.

It happened about 1 a.m., with reports of shots fired into a home in the 2800 block of Burbank Drive near West Charlotte High School, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The child was reported to be in serious but stable condition. Few details are available so far. No potential suspect information has been released.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

LGBTQ advocates denounce NC GOP-led transgender, drag bills

Posted April 23, 2023 at 1:46 PM EDT

LGBTQ advocates are reacting with dismay to a slew of new bills impacting drag performers and transgender youth in the North Carolina General Assembly.

State lawmakers are expected to begin finalizing legislation that bans transgender students from playing on athletic teams that match their gender identity in middle, high school and possibly college.

The House and Senate passed similar versions of the bill last week with veto-proof margins, and are expected to draft a final compromise bill that could be approved by both chambers.

Lawmakers are also considering legislation that would restrict minors from receiving puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care, as well as a bill that would ban drag shows in public, or wherever minors are present.

At a meeting of advocacy groups in west Charlotte on Saturday, Cameron Pruette, of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, said the impacts on LGBTQ people — especially transgender youth — could be devastating.

"We know that gender-affirming care is life-saving care. We know that when kids play sports, they have better lifelong outcomes academically, socially, mentally. As so these bills are having a real impact on lives, and we want to make sure that everywhere we go, people know that," Pruette said.

Kelly Durden Posey with the Carolinas LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said she and other LGBTQ people were both angered and dismayed by the legislation.

"The unintended impact is that we’re distracted from the real issues that are facing our economy and our kids. Realistically, I’m more concerned about my children facing someone with a gun in school, then facing someone coming out at school," Durden Posey said.

Republicans in North Carolina now have a supermajority after Representative Tricia Cotham left the Democratic Party to become a Republican this month, giving Republicans enough votes to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto.

Experimental, offbeat art fills Camp North End this weekend for annual BOOM festival

Posted April 22, 2023 at 11:04 AM EDT

Camp North End will be filled with offbeat, experimental art and performance this weekend as part of the annual BOOM festival.

The festival has its usual eclectic mix of art and live performance including spoken word, poetry, a psychedelic hip hop show, and live classical music.

The three-day event kicked off Friday and runs through Sunday evening.

A full schedule of events is at BOOMCharlotte.org. The festival has a mix of free and ticketed shows and displays.

Kannapolis Police are investigating the death of a student who was struck by an Amtrak train

Posted April 21, 2023 at 4:45 PM EDT

Kannapolis Police are investigating the death of a student who was struck by an Amtrak train Friday morning about 7:30 a.m.

Officials say two A.L. Brown 10th graders were crossing the track near 309 S. Main Street, on their way to school, when they became aware of the train coming. One of the students was able to get off the tracks and was not injured.

The other student was struck by the train and died at the scene of his injuries.

The incident occurred at a nondesignated crossing area.

Former CATS CEO John Lewis said he notified the MTA about May 2022 derailment

Posted April 21, 2023 at 11:22 AM EDT

Former CATS chief executive John Lewis said in an interview this week that he is “99.9 percent sure” he notified the Metropolitan Transit Commission about a Lynx Blue train derailment last year.

But the city of Charlotte said it can’t find that e-mail.

And MTC member Leigh Altman - a Mecklenburg Commissioner - said she searched her inbox and doesn’t have it either. She said also spoke with two other MTC members, who also said they couldn’t find any notification about it either.

Lewis, who left the transit system near the end of last year, downplayed the severity of the May 2022 derailment. The train didn’t tip over and no one was hurt.

Lewis was interviewed by the Charlotte Observer and Axios.

But in investigating the derailment, the North Carolina Department of Transportation criticized CATS for not conducting required maintenance on the trains and for not having an adequate safety plan to make sure it didn’t happen again. The DOT has also told CATS it must shut down either the Lynx Blue Line or the Gold Line if it doesn’t have at least two people working in the Rail Operations Control Center.

In the interviews, Lewis said he left CATS because the city had centralized its procurement process. That made it harder to get contracts approved, he said.

Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari tweeted yesterday QUOTE: “If you just read the Observer Q&A with former head of CATS John Lewis, allow me to set the record straight. I figured out well over a year ago he’s a habitual liar. That’s why I worked so hard to push him out.”

Gastonia's new social district opens April 28

Posted April 21, 2023 at 10:08 AM EDT

Next Saturday Gastonia will open its new social district. Businesses will be able to sell alcoholic beverages that customers can carry with them within the boundaries of the district. In Gastonia, that will be east to west along Main Avenue from CaroMont Health Park to Broad Street.

“We are excited to see the city’s first recognized Social District that will make our City more attractive and open to tourists and visitors, while creating more exposure to our downtown businesses,” said City Manager Michael Peoples. “We thank the businesses that are participating and hope it will be an added feature for their customers.”

Operating hours will be Monday through Saturday from 11 am to midnight and Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm, beginning on April 28th

Gastonia shooting suspect turns himself in

Posted April 21, 2023 at 6:57 AM EDT

The suspect in a shooting in Gastonia Tuesday that left three people injured, including a 6-year-old girl, is in custody. Gaston County Police say 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary turned himself in to the sheriff’s office in Tampa, Florida yesterday.

Singletary is expected in court there today for an extradition hearing that would send him back to Gaston County. In a press release, police said one of those injured, William James White, remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Several published reports say the incident started when a basketball rolled into Singletary’s yard.

Carowinds will implement a chaperone policy beginning Saturday

Posted April 20, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT

Amusement park Carowinds will implement a chaperone policy beginning on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

In a release, the park says the reason for the policy is the increasing amount of unruly and inappropriate behavior at the park.

All guests that are under age 15 must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old. The chaperone must have a valid government-issued photo identification while chaperoning. If a guest who’s 15 years old or younger is found in the park, they may be escorted out of the park.

Ardrey Kell High School students return to in-person learning after removal of bats

Posted April 20, 2023 at 4:40 PM EDT

The bats have been evicted out of Ardrey Kell High School and students will return to school on Friday April, 21.

Students have been out of class for the last two days due to bats found in the school. There is no evidence that a bat colony is in the building. Public health officials confirmed one human had exposure but no further details have been released about that person.

CMS board will interview the first of six superintendent candidates Friday

Posted April 20, 2023 at 3:56 PM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will begin interviewing superintendent candidates Friday. The search firm presented information on seven applicants to the board earlier this week, and the board will interview six of them.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for each interview but will move immediately into closed session for personnel matters. The interviews will run from Friday evening to next Thursday afternoon, with 90 minutes allotted for each candidate.

The board plans to narrow the field to no more than three finalists, who will be interviewed in person the first week of May. Unlike in some previous superintendent searches, the public won't get to meet the finalists or know who they are. The schedule calls for approving a contract at the May 9 meeting.

House bill would restore North Carolina driver's license access to applicants with a taxpayer number

Posted April 19, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT

A bill that would provide driver’s license access to North Carolina residents with limited or no legal immigration status passed a first reading in the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Democratic Representative Pricey Harrison of Guilford County is a co-sponsor of HB738. She says the bill would improve public safety by allowing more drivers to become licensed. But the proposal is unlikely to pass under a Republican-led legislature.

“There has been very little appetite at the North Carolina General Assembly for pro-immigrant legislation. We're kind of going the other way,” she said. “We just had that ICE bill that passed a couple of weeks ago, and there were efforts to eliminate the use of the FaithAction community ID card.”

The proposed policy would allow people without a Social Security number to apply for a driver’s license using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. North Carolina accepted ITINs for driver’s licenses before 2006.

Applicants would need proof of North Carolina residency and to complete a training course. The licenses would have a distinct design from federal REAL IDs, which require a Social Security number.

House Republicans introduce bill that would ban drag shows in public places, or in the presence of minors

Posted April 19, 2023 at 2:16 PM EDT

Republicans in the North Carolina House introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban drag performances in public places or in the presence of a minor. Gastonia Republican Representative Donnie Loftis is one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

The Raleigh News and Observer reports House Bill 673 classifies “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” as adult entertainers in the same legal category as strippers.

The bill does not define what constitutes “prurient interest,” nor does it say what constitutes a “male or female impersonator.” Any drag performance done in a public space or at a venue with minors present would result in a misdemeanor on first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses in the bill.

Gaston County Police search for suspect in shooting

Posted April 19, 2023 at 5:39 AM EDT

Gaston County Police are looking for a man they suspect was involved in a shooting in the 4700 block of Grier Road Tuesday night that left two people injured.

Robert Louis Singletary
Gaston County Sheriff's Office
Robert Louis Singletary

Robert Louis Singletary, 24, is the man they’re searching for. He’s 6 feet, 2 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes, weighing about 225 pounds.

One adult man and a juvenile were taken to the hospital and an adult female was grazed by a bullet during the shooting incident. Warrants charge Singletary with four counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 704-866-3300.

Bats at Ardrey Kell High force remote learning and new location for boundary meeting

Posted April 18, 2023 at 8:12 PM EDT

An infestation of bats at Ardrey Kell High has sent students into remote learning for two days and forced the relocation of a community meeting on school boundaries. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says a pest control company will report to the school Wednesday and students will work from home while “bat eviction measures are underway.”

Meanwhile, a session to present the latest draft of boundaries for a new southern middle and high school will move to the South Mecklenburg High School cafeteria. The boundary changes will affect thousands of students and approximately two dozen elementary, middle and high schools. They have drawn intenseinterest and controversy as the district has revised them for more than a year. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gaston County superintendent resigns in closed session after Monday's meeting

Posted April 18, 2023 at 3:44 PM EDT

Gaston County Superintendent Jeff Booker announced Monday that he’s resigning at the end of this school year, after almost 10 years on the job. He told the school board he recently turned 60 and wants to “transition to a new career opportunity.”

Since becoming superintendent in November of 2013, Booker has overseen the construction of several new schools, expansion of safety programs, development of community partnerships and the challenges of COVID-19. He was twice named regional superintendent of the year.

Most recently, the district has made headlines for persistent payroll problems, with hundreds of teachers complaining they’re not being paid correctly after launching a new software system in January of 2022. There have also been frequent protests about South Point High School’s continuing use of a red-faced Indian mascot; the district has left all mascot decisions to school leaders.

Booker has worked for Gaston County Schools since 2009. He did not mention his plan to resign during Monday’s night’s public meeting. A district spokesman says he informed the board in a closed session at the end of the meeting. The school board must now figure out a plan for hiring a new leader.

Outdoor hockey is coming to Charlotte next winter

Posted April 18, 2023 at 12:49 PM EDT

The Charlotte Checkers and the Charlotte Knights will collaborate to put on an outdoor hockey game in 2024. The Queen City Winter Classic will be played at Truist Field on Jan. 13, at 7 p.m.

The Checkers will take on the Rochester Americans, who last participated in an outdoor game in 2013. Tickets will go on sale at a later date.

The Charlotte Checkers are currently in the Calder Cup Playoffs and will play the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Tuesday night at Bojangles Coliseum.

Shooting off Rozzelle's Ferry Road kills one man, wounds another

Posted April 18, 2023 at 12:46 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a shooting that left one man dead and another critically injured in the Lakewood area on Monday night.

Around 9:30 p.m., CMPD officers responded to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at the 300 block of Lakewood Avenue, off Rozzelles Ferry Road. When officers arrived, they found two victims with gunshot wounds. One victim, 26-year old Lemuel Carr, was pronounced dead by paramedics. Twenty-three-year old Larry McVay was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

According to the police report, the suspect, who was not identified, did not have a known relationship with the victims. Several cars were also struck by gunfire, and a WSOC-TV reporter at the scene said their camera crews left because of ongoing gunfire in the area after the killing.

No arrest has been made at this time. CMPD asks anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Bank of America earnings beat analyst estimates

Posted April 18, 2023 at 7:37 AM EDT

Bank of America reported first-quarter profit of $8.16 billion this morning.

The Charlotte-based bank said it had earnings of 94 cents per share.

Those results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 79 cents per share.

Stock shares of the nation's second-largest bank have dropped about 8% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P's 500 index has climbed 8%. The stock has decreased 22% in the last 12 months.

Tillis rejects idea of replacing Feinstein on Senate Judiciary Committee

Posted April 18, 2023 at 7:19 AM EDT

North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis said Monday he would vote against any measure by Democrats to temporarily replace ailing California Senator Diane Feinstein on the judiciary committee.

Feinstein, who is 89, has been absent for weeks after she said she was hospitalized with shingles.

While some in her own party have called for her to resign, Feinstein proposed that another Democrat be allowed to take her place on the key committee, so President Biden's judicial nominees can move forward.

But on Monday, a number of swing Republicans — including Tillis, who is also on the committee — said no.

He said he respects Feinstein, but added that "this is an unprecedented request solely intended to appease those pushing for radical, activist judges."

Other key Senators also rejected the plan, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine.

CMS board meets to discuss superintendent finalists, with hire coming next month

Posted April 17, 2023 at 8:57 PM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board met Monday to review candidates and prepare to interview finalists for the district’s new superintendent. Consultant Debra Hill said the board will consider a slate of seven candidates, chosen from 49 applicants. She says the finalists she’s interviewed for the board so far all speak highly of the CMS.

"Most of them came in talking about the success that Charlotte has had, and...that Charlotte was really kind of a lighthouse for the rest of the country and they want to make sure that they are there to help that happen again. Very positive. Everybody came in talking about Charlotte's history," said Hill.

Hill is helping the board plan out interview questions for those finalists. But unlike past superintendent searches, the public won’t get to meet CMS’ finalists. The board discussed candidates in closed session. Board members have agreed to keep confidential the names of everyone who applied except the candidate they ultimately hire, which they’re scheduled to do next month.

Hill says 19 of the applicants were superintendents in other districts. Hill said she thinks any one of them could do the job.

"And we believe that the seven candidates we gave you are we will be presenting to you, any one of them could do an outstanding job. And so we are very, very delighted to be able to come to you and say we're bringing you some really solid people. And now it's going to be up to you to do the hard work," Hill said.

CMPD investigating four weekend shootings in Charlotte

Posted April 17, 2023 at 11:09 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department is investigating four shootings over the weekend in Charlotte, including on Sunday afternoon that sent people fleeing from a busy uptown park.

  • On Saturday, April 15, just after 1:30 a.m., CMPD officers responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call near the 600 block of Key Street, in the Thomasboro-Hoskins area. When officers arrived they found a male victim with a gunshot wound. Paramedics responded and transported the victim to Atrium-Main hospital with life threatening injuries. No other information has been released at this time.

  • Around 1 a.m. Sunday, officers responded to a report of gunshots at Lab City, in the 2800 block of East Independence Boulevard. Three victims with gunshot wounds transported themselves to nearby hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. Two of the victims were working as security at an event and were breaking up a fight, police said. No other details have been released.

  • On Sunday afternoon, officers near Romare Bearden Park heard gunshots around 4pm. Several major events, including the last day of Charlotte SHOUT! And a Charlotte Knights game, were taking place at this time. Two victims with life-threatening wounds were taken to the hospital. CMPD officers found 37-year old Kashif Simmons and recovered a gun. He has been charged with attempted first degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury and discharging a firearm in city limits. Simmons is in custody at the Mecklenburg County Jail.

  • Later Sunday, around 9:12 p.m., CMPD officers responded to a call at the 1400 block of Metals Drive near Sugar Creek.  When officers arrived, they found a victim with a gunshot wound. Paramedics pronounced 40-year old Steven Lowe II dead at the scene. CMPD has arrested and charged 28-year old Jamal Dublin with murder and discharging a weapon into an occupied moving vehicle.

'Where you at?' Johnson C. Smith event seeks to boost voting participation

Posted April 17, 2023 at 10:51 AM EDT

Johnson C. Smith University and voting rights groups are hosting a special town hall event in Charlotte tomorrow night to hear directly from students about effective ways to boost participation at the ballot box. The event, called “Where You At? Your Voice, Your Vote Town Hall” includes groups like Black Voters Matter, Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium, Common Cause NC, and Democracy NC, among others. It focuses on reasons for low turnout among younger voters and strategies to increase participation. The event starts at 6pm Tuesday on the JCSU campus, in the Mary Joyce Taylor Crisp Student Union.

Murder suspect accidentally released from Mecklenburg County jail, turns self back in

Posted April 15, 2023 at 9:48 AM EDT

A man charged with murder is back in custody after he was accidentally released from the Mecklenburg County Jail on Thursday.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said 25-year-old Jaylan Davis turned himself back in early Saturday morning after he was released this week based on a court order that indicated his charges had been dismissed.

In a statement, Sheriff Garry McFadden said he was grateful no one was harmed, and that the incident had been an “emotional rollercoaster” for the families involved.

"Our criminal justice system will never be flawless, but we will learn from this experience and improve our processes accordingly," McFadden said in the statement.

Davis is once again being held without bond and is scheduled to return to court on Monday, April 17.

Charlotte Knights celebrating the legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball this weekend

Posted April 14, 2023 at 5:38 PM EDT

This weekend the Charlotte Knights will celebrate the legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball.

The team will honor the 76th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball during Saturday’s game. During the game, all players will wear the No.42 jersey.

They will also have Ray Banks, an ambassador for the will bring his traveling historical museum on both Saturday and Sunday. The display can be found in the concourse with historic Negro League photos, baseball gear and more. During Sunday’s game, the Knights will have Rock Hill native and former Negro Leagues player Wali Cathcart attend the game. He was a pitcher for the Joe Black National All-Stars.

The Knights will also pay tribute to Charlotte resident and former Negro League player Eddie GG Burton. Burton passed away in 2018 and his wife Gaile and son will be honored during the pre-game.

First pitch on Saturday is at 6:05 pm and Sunday is at 1:05 pm.

NBA suspends former Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges

Posted April 14, 2023 at 5:25 PM EDT

The NBA has announced that former Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges has been suspended for 30 games without pay after the result of a domestic violence incident involving the mother of his children.

On November 3, 2022 Bridges pleaded no contest to a felony domestic violence charge. Following his arrest and plea he did not sign a contract for the 2022-23 season.

The NBA has deemed 20 games of the suspension to have been served. If Bridges signs to a team, he will be required to miss 10 games.

Active shooter drill to close Mecklenburg Courthouse on May 5

Posted April 14, 2023 at 12:05 PM EDT

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and the courthouse said this morning that they’ll hold an active shooter training exercise on Friday, May 5. The training will close the Mecklenburg County Courthouse from noon to 4 p.m.

MCSO is conducting the training to teach staff how to stay safe during active shootings. People who need to file anything that afternoon can do so at the Criminal Magistrate’s Office across the street.

Gastonia Police Department makes two arrests in Thursday night shooting

Posted April 14, 2023 at 11:29 AM EDT

The Gastonia Police Department has arrested two suspects in a shooting

On Thursday, just after 10 p.m., GPD officers responded to a call for shots fired into a home in the 800 block of South Street. When officers arrived, they discovered at least one shot had been fired into a home where a mother and her child were staying. No one was injured.

During the investigation, officers found a Dodge Charger and Nissan Sentra were in the area, along with eight people - some wearing ski masks. After gunshots were heard, both cars fled the area.

Officers later found the Dodge Charger driving down S. Marietta Street. Officers tried to stop the car, which sped off. The Charger lost control and crashed on Belmar Drive. GPD recovered a stolen loaded handgun in the car.

There were no injuries after the wreck.

Two other suspects fled the scene on foot. Both were located by officers. One suspect was 21-year old Leon Williams from Gastonia. He has been charged with shooting into occupied property, felony flee to elude, contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, resisting arrest, and multiple traffic-related offenses. He is being held on a $250,000 bond.

The second suspect was 19-year-old Edwin Leonardo Carrera-Cantarero of Gastonia. He’s been charged with shooting into an occupied property, possession of a stolen firearm, and resisting arrest. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Responding officers found the Nissan Sentra with three suspects on Garland Avenue. Police recovered a gun and two ski masks.

All juveniles involved have been released to their parents

Justice Department won't comment on possible extraditions in Shanquella Robinson death case

Posted April 13, 2023 at 2:56 PM EDT

The US Justice Department told WFAE on Thursday they will not confirm or deny anything about a request for extradition in the death of Shanquella Robinson. Mexican authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a suspect in the case, though the family says the U.S. can and should extradite a woman named in the arrest warrant.

No U.S. federal charges will be filed in the death of Robinson, a Charlotte native. In a joint statement, the U.S. attorneys for the middle and western districts of North Carolina said yesterday that they do not believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a federal crime was committed.

Robinson was found dead in October in a resort near Cabo, Mexico. A video later surfaced online showing Robinson being beaten by one of her travel mates. At a press conference yesterday, attorney for the family Sue-Ann Robinson (no relation) says the family is disheartened by the announcement.

"We’re disappointed but we’re not deterred. It’s not something that’s necessarily unexpected in the sense that Black and Brown people always have to carve their own path to justice," said Robinson, the attorney.

Robinson family supporters are planning a march in Washington, D.C. on May 19.

Shanquella Robinson, 25, of Charlotte, N.C., was killed last October while vacationing in Mexico with friends.

Republicans move to take control of NC community college boards

Posted April 13, 2023 at 11:18 AM EDT

The state board of community colleges met Wednesday to decide on the next system president. But WRAL-TV reports Republican state senate leaders have unveiled a proposal to take control of that process next time. The state community college system is currently run by boards that are selected by the governor and by state lawmakers. Senate Republicans are currently backing a bill that would cut out the governor's appointments and put them in charge of the community college system. Senator Amy Galey of Alamance County is the bill’s sponsor. She says the relationship between the system board and the president is unclear and the 58-campus system is not centralized.

“You have your people who are dedicated to the way things were done 15, 20,25 years ago and we live and the world, the changes seems like by the hour are so fast," Galey said.

The bill would take away all of the governor's appointments to state and local community college boards and give them to state lawmakers instead. The bill would also reduce the size of each board by cutting out the student representatives.

Catawba Lands Conservancy will permanently 10.9 acres in western Mecklenburg County

Posted April 13, 2023 at 11:02 AM EDT

The Catawba Lands Conservancy will permanently protect and maintain 10.9 acres in western Mecklenburg County between the Whitewater Center and Iswa Nature Preserve near the Catawba River.

The land was donated by the property owners. A North Carolina Land and Water Fund mini-grant helped with funding for the transaction.“We feel that protecting wild lands and historic properties like ours is one of the greatest services a family can do for their community,” property owners Missy Eppes and Jake Armour said in a statement.

With Mecklenburg County growing at a fast pace, CLC will preserve the land in perpetuity. The Sandifer Wilson Conservation Easement, as it's known, was once a part of a 246 acre farm that stretched up to the Catawba River.

Rock Hill's Come-See-Me festival begins tonight with downtown parade

Posted April 13, 2023 at 6:28 AM EDT

Rock Hill’s annual Come-See-Me Spring festival kicks off tonight, Thursday, April 13, with a parade through downtown.

The event takes place from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

The festival runs through Saturday, April 22, with a variety of music, food, drama and other activities.

For more information, go to comeseeme.org.

Parents sought by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police for serious abuse of 4-month-old boy

Posted April 12, 2023 at 3:00 PM EDT
Mildred Chestnut and Brandon Augustine
CMPD
Mildred Chestnut and Brandon Augustine

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are asking for the public’s help to find the mother and father of a 4-month-old who suffered "life-altering" injuries in a suspected child abuse case.

Maj. Luke Sell says that Mildred Chestnut, 23, and Brandon Augustine, 24, fled the state in late March after they tried to claim at a hospital that their infant was injured in a minor car crash. The child's severe injuries weren't consistent with that scenario, Sell said.

Sell said the couple’s car was found in Georgia. They’re believed to be receiving help, he said.

Sell encouraged the parents to stop running.

"It’s time to do right by your child, for one. I think that any parent, I know that those parents have to be having second thoughts about running, about not coming and seeing that child. We’re all human," Sell said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

SC Republicans favor Trump in 2024 presidential primary, poll finds

Posted April 12, 2023 at 1:37 PM EDT

A new poll from Winthrop University shows South Carolina Republicans supporting former President Donald Trump over his challengers by a wide margin in the 2024 presidential race.

Palmetto State registered Republican voters favor:

  • Trump with 41%
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gets 20%
  • Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is at 18%.

When it comes to the way Lindsey Graham is handling his job as a U.S. senator for South Carolina, the Winthrop poll finds 33% of South Carolinians approve while 47% disapprove.

Construction will shut part of I-485 next week

Posted April 12, 2023 at 1:31 PM EDT

Construction will slow things down on the inner loop of Interstate 485 next week. North Carolina Department of Transportation contract crews will be setting bridge girders on I-485 at the Johnston Road interchange. They’re part of the I-485 express lanes project to add an express lane and deliver additional improvements along Interstate 485 between I-77 and Independence Boulevard.

Setting the bridge girders on the inner loop side of the highway will take up to four nights, weather permitting. Crews plan to close all lanes on the inner loop just after midnight April 18, detouring all traffic to exit at Johnston Road. All lanes are scheduled to open by 5 a.m. that day. They'll follow the same closure schedule the next few nights until girders are safely installed.

New Winthrop poll shows SC Republicans favoring Trump over challengers

Posted April 12, 2023 at 7:58 AM EDT

A new poll from Winthrop University shows South Carolina Republicans supporting former President Donald Trump over his challengers by a wide margin in the 2024 presidential race. Palmetto State registered Republican voters favor Trump with 41%, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was at 20% and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 18%.

When it comes to the way Lindsey Graham is handling his job as a U.S. senator for South Carolina, the Winthrop poll finds 33% of South Carolinians approve while 47% disapprove.

Full results and methodology:
https://www.winthrop.edu/winthroppoll/2023-april-winthroppoll-results.aspx

WFAE names Ju-Don Marshall as its next CEO

Posted April 11, 2023 at 7:09 PM EDT

Ju-Don Marshall has been named president and CEO of WFAE, taking the place of Joe O’Connor, who stepped down in March after eight years. Marshall has worked for WFAE since 2017, most recently as chief content officer and executive vice president. She has a long history as a journalist, including as managing editor of Washington Post Digital, a senior vice president at News Corporation and at The Charlotte Observer.

Last year Business North Carolina magazinenamed her one of the state’s most influential leaders.

In an announcement to staff Tuesday, the WFAE board said it considered a national search but concluded that Marshall was the right person for the job. The board says she has a vision for WFAE’s responsibility as a public media outlet in a time of shrinking local journalism. Marshall will be the first person of color to lead the station.

You can read more about Marshall in this announcement from the WFAE board.

City to support Sullenberger Aviation Museum with $2 million donation

Posted April 11, 2023 at 3:44 PM EDT

The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday night to donate $2 million to the new Sullenberger Aviation Museum at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The funding from the city will be the last chunk of money needed to meet the museum's $31 million dollar fundraising goal. The museum is set to open in late 2023 to replace the airport's longtime aviation museum.

Its signature exhibition is the Miracle on the Hudson plane, which Captain Sully landed in the Hudson River after the Charlotte-bound jet hit a flock of geese.

Cornelius Police Department to hold a vigil for missing girl on her 12th birthday

Posted April 11, 2023 at 12:38 PM EDT

The Cornelius Police Department will hold a vigil for missing Cornelius girl Madalina Cojacari this evening, April 12, which is her 12th birthday.

She’s been missing since Nov. 21, and was last seen near her home, getting off the bus from Bailey Middle School. She was reported missing on Dec. 15. Her parents were both arrested on Dec. 17 and are being held in the Mecklenburg County jail. They're charged with failing to report her disappearance.

The vigil will be held at the Cornelius Police Department westside parking lot at 6 p.m.

Charlotte will spend $4.2 million to buy, demolish dilapidated hotels near Hidden Valley

Posted April 11, 2023 at 7:28 AM EDT

The city of Charlotte will spend $4.2 million to buy and demolish two rundown motels near Hidden Valley. Officials say that will help lower crime near the Sugar Creek/I-85 interchange, where clusters of cheap motels have become hotspots for criminal activity.

Nonprofit group Heal Charlotte had been trying to raise $10 million dollars to transform the hotel into a community campus with 132 affordable housing units. Some council members questioned whether the city's purchase will end up displacing more people—and whether the price tag is too high—but council member Malcolm Graham argued it’s worth the cost.

"I don’t think we can afford not to do it. This corner, I-85 and Sugar Creek, has been an eyesore for decades," he said.

The purchase passed in a 6-3 vote, with council members Ed Driggs, LaWana Mayfield and Braxton Winston voting no. Mayfield said the city is essentially paying off slumlords.

"My challenge is to pay a slumlord who has created chaos in our community over $4 million for a property for them to just turn around and be able to go purchase something else," said Mayfield.

She also argued that the city won't ensure any new affordable housing goes to nearby residents who are displaced. The discussion turned heated, with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles suggesting a five-minute break at one point after council members accused Mayfield of lacking decorum.

Once the motels are demolished, the city will seek proposals to redevelop the site with affordable housing and other uses. The Sugar Creek/I-85 area is one of the city's six designated "Corridors of Opportunity," low-income areas Charlotte is trying to reshape with focused public and private investments.

Charlotte will spend more than $30 million to fix Blue Line vehicles at risk of derailment

Posted April 10, 2023 at 5:32 PM EDT

The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday night to spend $30 million overhauling roughly 40 Lynx Blue Line vehicles and fix the risk that their axles might lock up and cause wheels to jump the tracks.

The contract with Siemens — the train cars' manufacturer — will expedite the overhaul of the vehicles. After a train derailed in May 2022, the Charlotte Area Transit System discovered that required major maintenance had been skipped on the trains, which are up to 17 years old.

The derailment led the North Carolina Department of Transportation to order the Charlotte Area Transit System to limit the speed of Lynx trains to 35 miles per hour until the repairs are made.

The state criticized the transit system’s response to the accident, saying it was unclear, insufficient and not acceptable. The contract includes an additional $900,000 for the purchase of custom-made dollies from Siemens, which are needed support the passenger cab while the wheels are repaired.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Leigh Altman is also a member of the Metropolitan Transit Commission, an oversight board for the Charlotte Area Transit System. She said CATS's response to a May 2022 train derailment is "beyond the pale."

CMPD makes arrest in Easter Sunday homicide in the Idlewild Farms area

Posted April 10, 2023 at 5:25 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have man an arrest in an Easter Sunday homicide in the Idlewild Farms area.

On Sunday, officers responded to a call about a body found at the 900 block of Southwood Oaks Lane. When officers arrived, they found 35-year old Laura Miller. Paramedics pronounced Miller dead at the scene.

CMPD issued a "be on the lookout" bulletin for 36-year old Miguel Gonzalez Rosales and he was located shortly after. CMPD officers stopped his car and arrested him. He has been charged with murder, desecrating a body and auto theft.

Police haven't said what led to the killing or whether Miller and Rosales knew each other. CMPD asks anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Rick Ware Racing driver Cody Ware indefinitely suspended by NASCAR after arrest

Posted April 10, 2023 at 4:54 PM EDT

Rick Ware Racing driver Cody Ware has been arrested and charged with assault by strangulation and assault on a female. Ware was arrested Monday morning by the Iredell County Sheriff's Office. He posted a bond that was set at $3,000.

Ware was not available at this weekend’s race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, after the team posted on social media he would be away for personal matters.

NASCAR has issued an indefinite suspension of Ware.

Police say impaired pickup truck driver caused CATS bus crash

Posted April 10, 2023 at 4:38 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have made an arrest in a crash involving a CATS bus yesterday. Police arrested 29-year old Nelzo Domingo, who is charged with driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

On Sunday, investigators say Domingo ran a red light in a white Ford pickup at the intersection of Oaklawn Avenue and Statesville Avenue near Camp North End. He struck a vehicle before hitting the CATS bus, and his truck came to a stop after hitting a pole.

Paramedics transported 15 victims to the hospital with minor injuries.

Clergy groups call for change after Tricia Cotham switch

Posted April 10, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDT

A group of interdenominational clergy and lay members in Charlotte on Monday called for reforms in North Carolina’s electoral process when an official changes parties. Their demand for change comes in the wake of Mecklenburg Representative Tricia Cotham’s decision to leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican last week.

One of the clergy members calling for change is Dr. Ricky Woods, a senior minister at First Baptist Church-West, on Oaklawn Avenue. Woods says when an elected official changes parties in the middle of a legislative session, there should be an automatic election.

"It's about giving more voice to the people. Under the current scenario, we have all of the power lies in the hands of the legislature, but the seats belong to the people. They're not individual seats, they are elected seats where they're supposed to represent their constituents," said Woods.

Woods also said expenses for a special election like the one proposed should come out of the state's budget surplus. He added that voters shouldn’t have to wait till the 2024 election cycle to have their voices heard.

Mecklenburg state House member Tricia Cotham, a longtime Democrat, announced Wednesday she is becoming a Republican, a move that upended North Carolina politics.

CMPD investigating a homicide in the Idlewild Farms area

Posted April 10, 2023 at 10:34 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a homicide in the Idlewild Farms area.

On Sunday, officers responded to a call about a body found at the 900 block of Southwood Oaks Lane. When officers arrived, they found a female victim. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.

CMPD Homicide detectives arrived to collect evidence. A person of interest has been found, and CMPD is not looking for other suspects. Further details weren't immediately released.

The investigation is ongoing. CMPD asks anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Three men arrested after shooting on I-277

Posted April 10, 2023 at 8:55 AM EDT

The Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office said it arrested three men Sunday morning after they allegedly fired shots from a moving car on Interstate 277.

After seeing the men shoot from their car, the sheriff’s office said it chased the car to Matheson Avenue and Country Club Drive. The car then crashed and the men ran away, before deputies caught them.

The men were all taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. No sheriff's deputies fired their weapons. Sheriff's deputies didn't release any more information about the incident, including the names of those arrested or why they were shooting from a car on I-277.

City Council to vote on $30 million fix for CATS light rail derailment risk

Posted April 10, 2023 at 8:42 AM EDT

The Charlotte City Council will vote tonight on spending $30 million to repair roughly 40 Lynx Blue Line vehicles.

The contract with Siemens would expedite the overhaul of the vehicles, which were discovered to be overdue on maintenance after a train derailed in May 2022.

The accident led to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to order the Charlotte Area Transit System to limit the speed of Lynx trains to 35 miles per hour until the repairs are made. The state criticized the transit system’s response to the accident, saying it was unclear, insufficient and not acceptable.

The contract would also include the purchase of dollies, which can support the passenger cab while repairs to the wheels are made.

A Lynx Blue Line vehicle derailed in May 2022 because of a broken axle bearing. CATS interim CEO Brent Cagle only learned about the accident and investigation two weeks ago.

Faith leaders sign letter urging Cooper to commute NC death sentences

Posted April 9, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT

Hundreds of faith leaders have signed a letter urging Governor Roy Cooper to commute the sentences of 137 people on North Carolina’s death row.

The letter was penned by the North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. It argues the death penalty was born from slavery and racism. Some 60% of those on North Carolina’s death row today are people of color.

The letter is signed by nearly 300 faith leaders. They want Cooper to commute all of the state’s death sentences to prison terms.

North Carolina currently requires a physician, nurse or paramedic to participate in executions, but the American Medical Association has said doing so is unethical for physicians, and no one has been put to death in North Carolina since 2006.

Still, some 137 people remain on the state’s death row, and could be executed in the future. The coalition plans to deliver the letter to Cooper’s office on Friday.

15 people injured in Easter morning crash involving CATS bus

Posted April 9, 2023 at 11:26 AM EDT

A Charlotte Area Transit bus was involved in a crash just north of uptown Charlotte on Easter morning that sent 15 people to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash was reported shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of Oaklawn Avenue and Statesville Avenue. In a tweet, the Charlotte Area Transit System said the crash involved bus number 2144, which was operating on Route 21.

Mecklenburg County EMS said all patients transported to the hospital had minor injuries. No other details were immediately available.

Charlotte's Saint Patrick's Cathedral reopens to Easter worshippers after six-month renovation

Posted April 9, 2023 at 8:38 AM EDT

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte welcomed parishioners back into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dilworth for the cathedral's first Easter mass on Sunday since reopening after a six-month renovation.

The Catholic News Herald reports the 84-year-old church reopened last week after getting roof and plaster repairs, a fresh coat of paint and new art and golf-leaf in the sanctuary.

The Diocese of Charlotte tells the News Herald the renovations cost an estimated $2.6 million. The cathedral was completed in 1939, and has undergone significant renovations five times before, in 1979, 1996, 2012, 2013, and 2021.

Hundreds of local Catholics were expected to attend Easter mass at the Cathedral on Sunday and hear Bishop Peter Jugis's Easter homily.

Charlotte skateboarders plan to build new DIY skatepark in Kilbourne Park

Posted April 8, 2023 at 9:57 AM EDT

Some welcome news for local skateboarders: the Charlotte Skate Foundation has reached an agreement with Mecklenburg County Park and Rec to build a new skatepark at Kilbourne Park in east Charlotte.

This comes after the group’s old skatepark was demolished at the former Eastland Mall site to make way for a new development.

In a GoFundMe message, the Charlotte Skate Foundation says the new skatepark will be built on a pair of repurposed tennis courts at Kilbourne Park. The county will lease the land to the group for $1 a year, and allow the group to build whatever they like, as long as it's within the terms of the lease.

The group will have to fundraise the money needed to build the park and pay for liability insurance, which the groups says could cost up to $8,000 per year. The announcement says the group hopes to start building and skating at the spot no later than July 1, 2023.

Students could enroll in any public school statewide under bill approved by SC House

Posted April 8, 2023 at 9:49 AM EDT

The South Carolina House has passed a bill that would allow students to enroll in any public school statewide, regardless of zoning, as long as the school has availability.

The legislation has support from the Palmetto State Teachers association, and the School Board association, according to The State newspaper, however some lawmakers are voicing concerns that the program could impact underperforming schools.

One Democrat, Roger Kirby of Florence, says he worries students will leave poor county schools in favor of schools in wealthier districts. Under the bill, school districts will get to decide how to handle transportation for students.

The bill is now under consideration by the state Senate.

What do you think of corporate landlords? Mecklenburg County wants to know.

Posted April 7, 2023 at 3:43 PM EDT

Mecklenburg County is studying the impact of corporate landlords buying single-family homes and turning them into rentals. Research from the county and UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute has found that Wall Street-backed companies now own more than 13,000 homes, many clustered in lower-income neighborhoods. The county plans to collect resident feedback as it examines the issue, and what — if anything — can be done.

You can find out more, including how to participate and share your thoughts about corporate landlords with county officials, at MecklenburgHousing.com.

Study: Corporate landlords have snapped up thousands of homes in Charlotte. Read more about the research here.

Charlotte Hornets sign guard Kobi Simmons and forward Xavier Sneed

Posted April 7, 2023 at 12:50 PM EDT

The Charlotte Hornets have signed guard Kobi Simmons to a multiyear contract and forward Xavier Sneed to a two-way contract.

Simmons originally signed a two-way contract in March and has spent 98 games with the Hornets G-League affiliate averaging 18.4 points, 5.1 assist and 4.4 rebounds per game for the Greensboro Swarm.

Sneed, who also spent time with the Swarm for 32 games, averaged 12.5 points, 5.1 assist and 4.4 rebounds per game. He signed a 10-day contract with the Hornets in March. This year he’s played three games for the Hornets which include a career high nine points against Toronto

Senate approves bill to take away Cooper appointment powers

Posted April 7, 2023 at 11:49 AM EDT

The North Carolina Senate has approved a bill that would take away some of Gov. Roy Cooper’s power to appoint members to several state commissions. Those commissions are in charge of things like approving electricity rates, road-building projects and environmental regulations. The bill is backed by Senate Republicans who say the changes would bring more accountability and diversity of thought to boards currently dominated by the governor’s picks. Cooper’s office is calling the bill an “unconstitutional power grab.”

Cooper calls for accountability as mill closing guts town

Posted April 7, 2023 at 9:25 AM EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper paid a visit to Western North Carolina yesterday. He made a morning stop in Asheville to tour a child care center and highlight proposed investments in early childhood education. He then traveled to Canton to meet with local leaders and community members affected by the closure of the town’s century old paper mill.

"We know too that something else needs to be done with that property. And we will do what we can to facilitate. I didn’t get a call from this company. I didn’t know they were going. You all didn’t know they were going. They just left. We need to hold them accountable," said Cooper.

Pactiv Evergreen executives sold stock just before the closure announcement in March. Local elected officials have called for an investigation into the sales. The mill is the town's largest employer and is scheduled to close in June. The governor’s proposed budget includes at least $5million in funding to support the Canton community and Western North Carolina.

A paper mill that first opened in Canton, North Carolina, more than 100 years ago is closing, laying off about 900 workers. To put that in perspective, Canton's population is about 4,400. For more, we turn now to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

White House Easter Egg Roll eggs — all 30,000 — come from North Carolina farm

Posted April 7, 2023 at 9:21 AM EDT

A farm in Nashville, in eastern North Carolina is delivering 30,000 eggs to the White House for an egg hunt this Monday. The "Easter Egg Roll" is an annual tradition that happens on the White House front lawn. This year's attendees will include military and veteran families as well as caregivers. The eggs will come from Trey Braswell with Braswell Family Farms.

"I think it's cool that these eggs are touching multiple places. And we think it's an honor to people in North Carolina, that, you know, their state was chosen to be the one that supplied the eggs for this, you know, historic, you know, annual event," said Braswell.

The farm is coordinating with a catering service in Winston-Salem to cook and dye the eggs. Braswell says all 30,000 eggs will be composted and used for farming after the event.

Nearly all homes are likely to see a property tax hike next year, city says

Posted April 6, 2023 at 3:41 PM EDT

Even if the city of Charlotte decides not to raise any more total revenue from property taxes this coming year, nearly all homes in the city will see a tax hike. That’s because residential property values rose faster than commercial property values in the latest county revaluation (a 58% average increase vs. a 51% average increase), so a higher proportion of the city’s property tax burden will shift to residential properties.

Under a revenue neutral tax rate, taxes will go up on 92% of houses, city council members heard today. And they’ll go up the most on the lowest-priced homes, whose values rose the most.

"I have never seen a year in the 20 years that I’ve been in Charlotte, more than right now, that is more of a regressive impact tax," said council member Tariq Bokhari, at the city council's budget workshop Thursday.

He and other council members said they’re worried low-income residents will be hurt the most by tax increases. The city and county must set their tax rates, and their budgets for the coming year, by the end of June.

You can see an interactive map of where residential property values went up the most online here.

CMPD arrest suspect in homicide near Montclaire South

Posted April 6, 2023 at 10:13 AM EDT

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police have made an arrest in a homicide in the Montclaire South area.

On Monday, CMPD arrested 22-year-old Jorge Flores in connection with the March 25 k