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Published August 1, 2023 at 12:41 PM EDT

CATS says inexperienced drivers could be causing train derailments

Posted September 5, 2023 at 11:28 AM EDT

Charlotte Area Transit System interim chief executive Brent Cagle said Tuesday that less experienced light-rail operators could be leading to an unusual number of minor derailments inside the rail yard.

Because of staffing shortages, CATS has been working quickly to hire new drivers, including for the Lynx Blue Line. But Cagle said their inexperience could be leading to a spike in derailments.

“They are all properly trained, and they have gone through and successfully completed their training, but these are operators with four, six, eight months of experience and they are learning,” Cagle said.

Cagle said the transit system is working to install better lighting inside the rail maintenance yard yard, as well as a new safety product that gives operators a green light when it’s OK to switch tracks inside the yard.

CATS has had at least four derailments inside the rail yard in 2023 and 2022, along with a May 22 derailment while a Lynx Train was carrying passengers.

Cagle also sought to reassure the public.

“Internally we are concerned but as a passenger, this is not cause for alarm,” he said.

The May 2022 derailment - which did not cause any injuries - was due to CATS not performing required maintenance on rail cars. The state imposed a 35 miles per hour speed limit on all Lynx trains, which remains in effect.

Light rail tracks not damaged after pickup truck drives down them in South End

Posted September 4, 2023 at 11:51 AM EDT

Charlotte Area Transit Officials said Monday that they rushed to evaluate light rail tracks in South End after a video showing a pickup truck driving down the tracks made the rounds on social media.

The video, posted by Barstool 49ers, shows a fight between several people outside a South End bar. A pickup truck then turns onto the tracks and drives away.

CATS officials said they became aware of the video Monday and dispatched a team to the site, which appears to be near the Bland Street station.

A "thorough inspection confirmed the safety and integrity of the rail tracks," CATS said in a statement. Transit officials said they have no information about the fight shown in the video.

Heat fells 21 people at HBCU Battle of the Bands on Sunday

Posted September 4, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT

A Battle of the Bands event featuring music from a dozen historically Black colleges and university marching bands was derailed Sunday afternoon by a wave of heat-related illnesses that sent seven people to a hospital.

The event was held at the American Legion Memorial Stadium, just outside uptown. High temperatures Sunday reached almost 90 degrees, with a heat index reading of 90.

The Charlotte Fire Department said 21 people were evaluated for heat-related illness symptoms and seven required transport to a hospital. One of those patients was in serious condition, paramedics said.

First responders brought the county's mass casualty event bus and used four ambulances on a rotation to shuttle and evaluate patients.

One person shot dead in north Charlotte

Posted September 4, 2023 at 11:38 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detectives are investigating a shooting that left one person dead early Saturday in north Charlotte.

Officers were called at about 6 a.m. to an apartment building on Orchard Trace Lane, just off Interstate 85, for a report of a shooting. They found one person shot dead

No other information had been released by CMPD as of midday Monday. WSOC reported that the victim was a woman with three grown children and several grandchildren, and that her car was also stolen.

Ramsey Creek Beach won't open Saturday because of bacteria levels

Posted September 1, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDT

Mecklenburg County officials say Ramsey Creek Beach, one of the only public swimming areas on Lake Norman, will be closed Saturday because of elevated bacteria levels in the water.

"We suspect the elevated bacteria is a result of the heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Idalia," Mecklenburg Park and Recreation said in a statement. Officials will retest the water daily and announce a reopening date when it's safe.

Saturday is the first day of the busy Labor Day weekend, one of the final beach weekends and the unofficial end of summer. The adjoining park will remain open.

Over UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, ACC votes to expand with Stanford, Berkeley and SMU

Posted September 1, 2023 at 10:50 AM EDT

The Charlotte-based Atlantic Coast Conference voted this morning to extend invitations to Stanford, Cal-Berkeley and Southern Methodist University to join the league. That would push the ACC to 18 teams

“This is a significant day for the ACC as we welcome Cal, SMU and Stanford to this incredible conference,” said University of Virginia President James Ryan, chair of the ACC Board of Directors, in a statement. “This expansion will enhance and strengthen the league now and in the future. We greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of Commissioner Jim Phillips throughout this entire process, especially his focus on minimizing travel burdens for student-athletes, and we are excited about the ACC’s collective future.”

The move comes after opposition from the board of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Here's the full statement from the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees:

“The strong majority of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees opposes the proposed expansion of the Atlantic Coast Conference to include Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Southern Methodist University. Although we respect the academic excellence and the athletic programs of those institutions, the travel distances for routine in-conference competitive play are too great for this arrangement to make sense for our student athletes, coaches, alumni and fans. Furthermore, the economics of this newly imagined transcontinental conference do not sufficiently address the income disparity ACC members face. Without ironclad assurances that the proposed expansion serves the interest of UNC-Chapel Hill, we believe it should be voted down.”

But the board's statement had no impact; the UNC Chancellor casts a vote in the ACC, and the board can't override him.

Officials seek high-speed rail money for North Carolina

Posted September 1, 2023 at 10:09 AM EDT

As Charlotte works to get its transit system back on track, federal, state, and local officials gathered in Wilmington Thursday to discuss a bigger picture - the possibility of a new intercity rail connection to Raleigh. They’ve been optimistic, since President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law in 2021, opening up billions of dollars in federal funding for new and improved rail systems.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is seeking funding for 12 rail corridors — which would connect every major metropolitan area in the state to one passenger rail network— from Asheville to Raleigh to Wilmington. The winning projects for the $4.5 billion in grants will be announced later this year. The Raleigh to Wilmington connection would take just under three hours, but presenters say with Wi-Fi available on the train, it would be more productive compared to the 2 hours and 15 minutes it currently takes to drive to Raleigh.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo supports the idea, and said it has the backing of mayors all over the Cape Fear Region.

"Asheville wants it, we want it, points in between want it, smaller communities that surround Wilmington in southeastern North Carolina would like to see it give their citizens and people an opportunity to get on a train and go to destinations all over the country," said Saffo.

This was one of five meetings being held around the state to discuss upcoming rail lines, with the aim to transform rail service throughout the southeast.

ESPN Gameday comes to Charlotte on Saturday

Posted September 1, 2023 at 10:05 AM EDT

College football gets into full swing this weekend and Charlotte will have the spotlight Saturday. ESPN’s iconic Gameday preview show will be live from Romare Bearden Park Saturday morning with the area around the stage opening at 6:30, but fans can start lining up before that.

The Duke’s Mayo Classic is set for Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium with North Carolina taking on South Carolina in the opener for both teams. Danny Morrison is executive Director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation. He says it’ll be a huge day for the city.

"Game day at Bearden Park starts at nine o'clock on Saturday morning, goes till noon. We open up fast at noon and so there'll be vendors, along Mint Street there, right outside of the stadium. It'll probably really get busy around three o'clock or so and then we'll, that'll close, around six o'clock so people can get into the stadium," says Morrison.

Gamecock Coach Shane Beamer says job one will be stopping North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who played his high school football at Myers Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 Saturday night.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police make arrest in South Charlotte road rage shooting

Posted August 31, 2023 at 6:13 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have arrested a man in connection with a road rage shooting South Charlotte. CMPD officers responded around 7 am Wednesday near 900 Rama Road to a call about a shooting in the area.

CMPD officers arrested Andre Whitfield, who they say shot a woman in the leg. The victim was transported to a hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

Several schools nearby were put on a temporary lockdown.

Charlotte businessmen sentenced to prison in $20 million stolen cell phone scheme

Posted August 31, 2023 at 3:37 PM EDT

Two Charlotte cell phone store owners have been sentenced to almost four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a scheme to resell millions of dollars worth of stolen iPhones.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Hamzeh Jamal Alasfar, 31, and Tayseer Issam Alkhayyat owned Cellport International and D Town Wireless, two Charlotte businesses. Alasfar and Alkhayyat purchased stolen iPhones from other people, paying "significantly below" retail price.

They shipped those phones to customers in the U.S. and overseas, including in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. Prosecutors say Alasfar and Alkhayyat shipped more than 20,000 new iPhones worth more than $20 million in just one year, from January 2019 through January 2020.

They'll serve 46 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Classes restart at UNC-Chapel Hill after professor's killing

Posted August 31, 2023 at 11:16 AM EDT

Classes are resuming Thursday at UNC-Chapel Hill after a graduate student was charged with murder. Police say 34-year-old Tailei Qi shot and killed faculty member Zijie Yan in a lab on Monday. Beth Moracco is the university’s new faculty chair. She told WUNC everyone on campus is still processing the situation.

"There's a deep, deep sense of sorrow and a sense that something really precious to us, us has been shattered. You know, our, our classrooms and our labs and our relationship with students and being on campus, it brings us a sense of joy and this is what we do. This is our life's work and to have it threatened like that and to lose a colleague, it's really devastating," she said.

About 5,000 people gathered at the Dean Smith Center Wednesday night to pay their respects to Yan, who had two young daughters.

Woman's death during Moore County blackouts ruled homicide

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:51 PM EDT

The death of an 87-year-old woman during December blackouts in Moore County after a substation was attacked has been deemed a homicide.

ABC11 reports that Karin Zoanelli of Pinehurst, who had chronic lung disease, needed to use an oxygen machine to help her breathe. According to the medical examiner, when her home lost power it caused breathing problems that resulted in her death.

Local officials are still investigating who attacked the substation, and plan to charge that person with homicide if they’re caught. No arrests have been made in the case.

Cooper endorses Stein for governor, ahead of another candidate possibly entering the race

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:13 PM EDT

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper endorsed Attorney General Josh Stein for governor on Wednesday.

The announcement comes as speculation mounts that Democratic state Supreme Court justice Michael Morgan might challenge Stein in the Democratic primary.

So far, Stein is the only prominent Democrat running for North Carolina governor.

But he could face a significant challenge from Morgan, who said earlier this summer he may run for the state’s highest office. Morgan, whose term runs through 2024, recently said he will step down from the court sometime next week.

When Cooper was attorney general before being elected governor in 2016, he hired Stein as Assistant Attorney General for Consumer Protection.

The governor’s endorsement could be an effort to solidify Democratic support for Stein before Morgan leaves the court and announces his plans.

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to face Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the leading Republican running for North Carolina governor.

No reports yet of Charlotte voters not having photo ID

Posted August 30, 2023 at 2:03 PM EDT

North Carolina’s new photo ID law went into effect last week for the first time with the city of Charlotte’s primary for mayor and City Council.

But after five days of early voting, there haven’t been any reported problems of people coming to the polls without an ID.

The law requires that poll workers ask North Carolina voters to show a photo ID to vote - such as a driver’s license, passport, state ID or a military or veteran ID.

But if they come to the polls without one, they can fill out a form showing that they have a “reasonable impediment” preventing them from getting an ID. That could include a lack of transportation or misplacing their ID.

After filling out the form, the voter can cast a provisional ballot — which doesn’t count until it’s verified later.

As of Wednesday morning, 395 people have voted early in Charlotte. The Mecklenburg Board of Elections says no one has filled out the impediment form, and there have been no reports of anyone coming to the polls without an ID.

That could change as more people come to vote leading up to Election Day on September 12th — and in wider statewide races to come. And it’s possible some people who don’t have an ID decided not to go to the polls at all.

CMS cancels after-school activities for Hurricane Idalia

Posted August 30, 2023 at 1:14 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has canceled all after school activities Wednesday due to the impact of Hurricane Idalia. That includes clubs, sports and extracurricular activities. CMS after school enrichment programs will operate as normal through 6 pm. Community uses for school buildings will also be suspended Wednesday.

No one injured in early morning Blue Line derailment in south Charlotte

Posted August 29, 2023 at 4:05 PM EDT

Officials say no one was injured when a Lynx Blue Line train derailed early Tuesday morning.

The Charlotte Area Transit System says no passengers were aboard when the train derailed while switching tracks in the city's south rail yard at 2:32 a.m.

Officials believe an operator failed to stop the train, causing the derailment. The train was traveling at less than 10 miles per hour. It remained upright after derailing.

Other trains were directed to operate a single track near the area until the derailed train was removed around 6:40 a.m.

The CATS Safety Division is conducting an investigation, and will report its findings to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

It's at least the third time this year CATS has had a similar incident. Trains derailed in CATS rail yards in July and May as well.

Target store bomb threats not credible, CMPD says

Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:23 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a series of bomb threats made to Target stores on Tuesday.

Police say the threats were made via email, but no suspicious devices were found. Other Target stores in different states faced similar threats Tuesday.

Gov. Cooper declares state of emergency as Hurricane Idalia impacts expected this week

Posted August 29, 2023 at 3:15 PM EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper says North Carolina is gearing up for Hurricane Idalia, which is expected to hit the state later this week as a weaker but still potent tropical storm system.

"We think that this storm will affect North Carolina, not at hurricane strength, but we do believe we will see strong winds, power outages, and a lot of rain, particularly in the southeastern part of the state. 

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday in Charlotte, Cooper said one concern is how inundation could hurt crops nearing harvest in the state’s flat eastern part. Cooper said he’s heard from people whose crops could be impacted.

"Farmers (are) deeply concerned about getting crops out of the field and agricultural products out of the field," he said. "And that is why I have issued the state of emergency in order to suspend the regulations on the highways so farmers can take more out of the field."

Idalia will likely head up through South Carolina on Wednesday and reach North Carolina's coast Thursday morning. Duke Energy has mobilized over 5,000 responders as the company prepares for power outages.

Forecasters in the Carolinas keep an eye on Hurricane Idalia

Posted August 28, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for most of North Carolina and upstate South Carolina due to possible impacts from Hurricane Idalia. Forecasters say that through Thursday, widespread storms will produce heavy rainfall and high winds in the Carolinas.

The system is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane when it makes landfall in Florida on Tuesday night.

CMS superintendent talks decision to delay school library check-outs while figuring out book challenge process

Posted August 28, 2023 at 4:05 PM EDT

At a first day of school news briefing Monday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Crystal Hill talked about her decision to delay check-outs from school libraries for up to two weeks. She said North Carolina’s new parents’ bill of rights, which became law less than two weeks before opening day, requires the district to let parents review what their children check out and have a process for parents to challenge library and classroom materials.

It also says students in grades K-4 can’t be exposed to material involving gender identity, sexual activity or sexuality.

Hill said CMS needed more time to make sure all schools have procedures that comply with the law.

"So again, I just wanted to make sure that we were good to go, in great communication with our families. We expect that Sept. 11 we’ll be able to open up for, open circulation. That’s the latest date. Hopefully we’ll be able to do something sooner than that," she said.

Until then, students may still visit their school libraries for instruction or special classes, but they can’t check anything out.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved four policies to comply with North Carolina’s new parents’ bill of rights law Tuesday, in a meeting that saw personal stories shared by speakers and board members.

CMS delays school library checkouts while figuring out book challenge process

Posted August 25, 2023 at 2:30 PM EDT

Students will return to classrooms in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Monday, but they won’t be able to check out library books for the first two weeks. The district is still working out details of a new process for parents to challenge library books, as required by the parents’ bill of rights that became state law last week. The district says school libraries will still be used for instruction during the first two weeks, including teaching kids how to check out books. And CMS says students can still get reading material through their online access to the public library.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sues social media companies over student mental health

Posted August 25, 2023 at 1:03 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools filed a lawsuit yesterday against the parent companies of social media platforms Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube, saying the apps have created a mental health crisis among students. The Charlotte Ledger reports the 184-page complaint accuses the platforms of causing a long list of problems among students, including addictive behaviors, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Gastonia will partner with Gaston County to provide aid to an encampment

Posted August 25, 2023 at 10:01 AM EDT

The City of Gastonia will partner with Gaston County to provide information and resources to homeless people at an encampment at Faith Hope & Love Ministries, on North Oakland Street in Gastonia.

The organization says that those living at the encampment must leave the property by 8 a.m. on Monday. The city and county will provide information from various resources including non-profit groups and the faith community. It will include resources to help those encamped on the property.

Gastonia officials estimate that there are about 50-60 people living at the encampment.

CMPD officer shoots, kills second domestic violence suspect this week

Posted August 25, 2023 at 8:56 AM EDT

For the second time this week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have shot and killed a suspect in a domestic violence call. The latest was at the Abberly Woods Apartments in north Charlotte. That’s off Reames Road near I-77.

It happened just after midnight when officers responded to a call for a domestic disturbance. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said officers observed a commotion inside the residence and entered, where they shot and killed a man. A female victim was taken to a hospital with multiple life-threatening stab wounds.

"Our officers observed the threat and had to mitigate that as soon as possible to preserve life. We're going to pray that the female victim is going to be ok. She's currently being treated. The State Bureau of Investigation will be the lead investigating agency for this officer involved shooting," Jennings said.

On Sunday, CMD said an officer shot and killed a suspect during a domestic call. An officer was stabbed in the neck during the incident. No officers were injured in the incident today.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings described what happened.

"When they got to the scene, they observed the commotion inside of the residence. Officers made entry into the residence where they observed a lethal threat to the victim. One of our officers discharged his firearm striking the suspect. The suspect was pronounced deceased on the scene. The victim was transported to the hospital with multiple life-threatening stab wounds. This is just another example of how dangerous domestic violence calls for service are," he said.

Concord police chief to retire

Posted August 24, 2023 at 3:24 PM EDT

After eight years with the Concord Police Department, Chief Gary Gacek announced his retirement on Thursday. His last day in the position will be Sept. 30. After 33 years in law enforcement, he will join Eli Lilly’s Global Security Team in Concord. Deputy Chief Jimmy Hughes will step in to serve as the interim chief.

“Chief Gacek has been an innovative leader for the city of Concord, pushing our Police Department to achieve the highest standards of public safety,” city manager Lloyd Payne sai. “Through his outstanding and visible leadership, Chief Gacek has fostered trust and openness between the residents in our city and the brave men and women who serve us each day. He will be missed but I wish him the very best as he retires from his decorated law enforcement career and begins the next chapter in his life.”

NC Supreme Court Justice stepping down amid governor run considerations

Posted August 24, 2023 at 2:14 PM EDT

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan said today on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he will step down from his position on Sept. 4. According to multiple media reports, Morgan is considering a run for North Carolina governor.

Morgan is one of two Democrats on the state's high court. He was elected in 2016. If he chooses to run for governor, he would face Attorney General Josh Stein in the primary.

Mecklenburg County Health Department hosting back-to-school vaccination clinic Saturday

Posted August 24, 2023 at 11:07 AM EDT

Summer is coming to a close and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students return to the classroom on Monday. In preparation, the Mecklenburg Health Department will host a Back-to-School Immunizations Clinic at Beatties Ford Road on Saturday.

Kindergartners, 7th and 12 grade students are required to get vaccines against diseases such as polio, measles and chickenpox. Appointments are required for the clinic and your child’s vaccination records will be needed. For more information click here.

CATS hopes to restore Gold Line service in four months

Posted August 24, 2023 at 10:29 AM EDT

Interim Charlotte Area Transit System CEO Brent Cagle said Wednesday night that he hopes to restore more frequent service on the Gold Line streetcar as the agency hires more train operators. This past weekend, CATS cut service on the Gold Line from every 20 to every 30 minutes because of an operator shortage.

"We hope that over the next roughly four months as we're seeing increasing new recruits in classes that we will be able to resume the 20-minute headways on Gold line. We think it's about four months but it’s staffing contingent," Cagle said.

Cagle also told the Metropolitan Transit Commission that a planned federal review of CATS’ operations and finances is ongoing, and that while the agency is still working to address operational challenges CATS is seeing more ridership for special events like the recent Beyonce concert.

The Charlotte Area Transit System says it’s cutting back service on the Gold Line streetcar, as the agency continues struggling to fill staffing vacancies. Starting next Saturday, Aug. 19, the Gold Line will run every 30 minutes. CATS says it hopes to return to 20-minute service as more drivers are hired.

Funeral set for Friday for Rock Hill civil rights activist

Posted August 24, 2023 at 5:53 AM EDT

Funeral services are set for Friday in Rock Hill for Patricia Hinton Sims.

Sims died Aug. 18 at 79.

She was one of the "City Girls" who marched in support of civil rights in the South Carolina town back in the 1960s. The Rock Hill Herald says they were locals who risked violence, hatred and scorn to make their hometown and the world a better place. Today, they’re memorialized in a Freedom Walkway in downtown Rock Hill.

Services are set for 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity Baptist Church in Rock Hill.

Luxury auto-theft ring members indicted in Charlotte

Posted August 23, 2023 at 9:25 PM EDT

Five people were indicted in Charlotte's federal court on Monday for accusations of running an auto-theft ring targeting luxury dealerships across the country. The indictment charges: Deewane White, 43; Garyka Bost, 24; Kevin Fields, 27; Hosea Hampton, 25; and Reginald Hill, 23, with stealing high-end vehicles worth millions of dollars.

The charges against them include conspiracy to transport, possessing and selling stolen vehicles in interstate commerce and interstate transportation of a motor vehicle. According to prosecutors, from 2021 to 2023 they stole luxury cars from a dozen states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, and as far away as New York and Arizona. The vehicles stolen included Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Land Rover, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, as well as high-end models from other manufacturers.

The indictment alleges that the group transported the stolen vehicles and sold them in Charlotte for below their market values. The group members carried out the thefts by pretending to test drive vehicles at dealerships and swapping the vehicles' key fobs with similar ones, then stealing the cars later using the purloined fobs.

Prosecutors said at other times the group would carry out simpler "smash and grab" thefts by breaking into dealerships and breaking open the lockboxes that held keys to the vehicles. After the vehicles were stolen, members of the ring would remove the GPS navigation and tracking systems on the vehicle. They also used false dealer tags or stolen license plates on the cars.

To mark 35th season, Charlotte Hornets unveil classic edition jerseys

Posted August 23, 2023 at 2:30 PM EDT

The Charlotte Hornets have unveiled a new classic edition uniform for their 35th season. The Hornets will bring back teal jerseys with multi-colored pinstripes, in a nod to the uniforms the team wore from 1997-2002. The classic edition jerseys will be worn during eight home games this season. The Hornets preseason begins Oct. 10 on the road against the Miami Heat.

SC Supreme Court upholds six-week abortion ban

Posted August 23, 2023 at 12:33 PM EDT

An all-male South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the state's six-week abortion ban, overriding a decision made earlier this year when the high court ruled a similar ban violated the state Constitution.

The 4-1 decision marks a win for anti-abortion groups and many of the state's conservative legislators after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 removed federal-level protections for abortion access.

Chief Justice Donald Beatty was the lone dissenter.

Narrowing the state’s previous 20-week prohibition, the Supreme Court’s ruling now puts South Carolina on par with most other Southern states, which have sought to aggressively restrict abortion access post-Roe v. Wade.

Concord to hold vigil for three youths who died in fire

Posted August 23, 2023 at 10:01 AM EDT

Investigators in Concord have identified the three chiildren who died in a city-owned public housing duplex on Sunday. Daniella Kueviakoe, 16, Stephen Kueviakoe, 15, and 11-year-old Emmanuelle Kueviakoe lost their lives in the fire.

The city said firefighters responded to Lincoln Street Southwest and found heavy fire coming from one of the units on Sunday about 1 a.m. According to the city, the parents were not home during the time of the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Concord and the Logan community will host a prayer vigil in the city’s Housing Department’s courtyard at 283 Harold Goodman Circle on Friday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 p.m.

Early voting for Charlotte municipal elections starts Thursday

Posted August 23, 2023 at 9:56 AM EDT

The in-person early voting period for September municipal elections in Charlotte begins Thursday, Aug. 24, and ends Saturday, Sept. 9. This is the first election in which voters will be asked to show photo identification under a law enacted in 2018.

If a voter cannot show a photo ID, they can still vote by filling out an ID Exception Form and voting a provisional ballot.

You can find more information, including early voting locations, your sample ballot, and photo ID requirements, online at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website.

The primary election will be held Sept. 12.

Mecklenburg County warns residents about jury duty phone scammers

Posted August 22, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT

Have you gotten a call about jury duty recently? You may want to double check that it wasn’t a false call for service. Mecklenburg County is warning county residents that there have been a string of scam phone calls by people posing as law enforcement.

Officials said the caller will tell the person that they have failed to respond to a jury summons and that an order for their arrest has been issued. The callers will also tell people that they need to pay a fee using gift cards to avoid jail time.

In North Carolina, all jury summons are issued by mail and if you fail to appear you will not be fined by telephone or email. Officials say if you receive a similar call, hang up and do not provide any information.

Steele Creek apartments draw opposition from neighbors

Posted August 22, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT

A plan to build hundreds of apartments on Choate Circle in Steele Creek is drawing opposition from neighbors, who say they’re concerned about traffic, crime and the impact on nearby athletic fields. Monica Zeleznik lives nearby and told Charlotte City Council at Monday night’s rezoning meeting that the plan isn’t right for the area.

"There is, just a lack of ownership and investment in the local community when it's apartment living versus owned town homes. So many apartments have gone up in the southwest corner that nearly half the students in local schools are now in transient housing. I work with a lot of 30-year-olds," she said. "Even my daughter lives in an apartment, I'm not opposed to apartments. There's a time and a place."

Developer Toll Brothers wants to build 350 apartments. The 19-acre site is currently home to the Piedmont Kennel Club, a club and exhibition location for purebred dogs. City Council will vote on the proposal as soon as next month.

Home explodes overnight in Mooresville, killing 1

Posted August 22, 2023 at 11:15 AM EDT

A house explosion in Mooresville Tuesday at around midnight left one person injured and another person dead, emergency responders said.

Multiple fire departments, the Iredell County Fire Marshal’s Office and Emergency Management officials responded to the destroyed home at in the 200 block of Barber Loop. Along with the 6,391-square-foot home, several vehicles were a total loss.

When firefighters arrived they found one person leaving the destroyed house. That person was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

While removing debris, the fire department found a second person, who was pronounced dead.

Iredell County Emergency Management did not release the names of the victims, but WSOC-TV reported the house, valued at nearly $2 million dollars, is owned by Tennessee Titans safety Caleb Farley. Property records appear to confirm this. An investigation of what caused the home to explode is ongoing.

2.5-million-square-foot data center planned in Charlotte

Posted August 22, 2023 at 10:08 AM EDT

Northeast Charlotte could be getting a major new data center. Charlotte City Council heard Monday night about plans for a 2.5-million-square-foot facility on a largely vacant site at the I-485/University City Boulevard interchange.

American Real Estate Partners wants to build the facility to meet what it says is the growing need for ultra-powerful cloud computing to handle artificial intelligence and other applications. The site is near a Duke Energy substation that would supply the huge amounts of energy required.

Council member Dante Anderson said the proposal is attractive, but there are still concerns.

"So the good paying jobs and the minimal traffic impact, all of those things are wonderful. However, I do know that the community has voiced some concerns about noise mitigation and the humming that comes with the presence of data centers," she said.

Company officials said they'll meet all the applicable rules to mitigate impacts on nearby neighborhoods. City council will vote on the plan at a future meeting.

Panthers gearing up for final preseason game this week

Posted August 21, 2023 at 11:20 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers headed back to practice Monday after improving in Friday night’s preseason loss 21-19 loss to the New York Giants — but not quite enough to win. Head coach Frank Reich said Sunday he’s sticking with the plan.

"I feel good about every step of the process, about what we're doing in practice in our meetings, in every phase, in every area. I feel like we've made good progress as far as cleaning up details of what it takes to play winning football. But until you get to the regular season and you, you don't really fully know until you're tested in every way," Reich said.

The Panthers host the Detroit Lions at 8 pm Friday at Bank of America Stadium in the preseason finale. Reich said yesterday he’s not sure if – or how long – the starters will play in the preseason finale Friday.

"You know, we'll see how long guys play this week. You know, even whatever plan we have will be adjusted and flexible once we get in the game," he said.

Three children dead after fire at Concord duplex, officials say

Posted August 21, 2023 at 6:45 AM EDT

Investigators in Concord are trying to figure out what started a fire at a city-owned public housing duplex early Sunday that claimed the lives of three children.

Firefighters responded to Lincoln Street SW just after 1a.m. Sunday to find heavy fire at one of the units in the duplex.

Despite CPR, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy died at the scene. A third sibling, a 16-year-old girl, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. She died Sunday night, according to a city press release.

City officials said the children's parents were not home at the time of the fire.

The Concord Fire Department is working with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Concord Police Department on the investigation.

CMPD officer shoots and kills domestic violence suspect

Posted August 20, 2023 at 8:41 PM EDT

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer and a woman were recovering Sunday after being attacked during a domestic violence call in South End. Another officer shot and killed the suspect, police said.

Police said the incident happened around 8 a.m. near 300 West Tremont Avenue, just south of uptown. Officers were called for a domestic disturbance at an apartment. While outside, they heard gunshots and forced their way in. A man inside the residence struggled with officers, stabbing one of them in the neck.

The officer who was stabbed retreated, and his partner fired a shot that struck the suspect. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The injured officer and a woman at the apartment who had been shot were both taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

CMPD had not released the identities of any of the officers or suspect Sunday night. The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation.

North Carolina's unemployment rate fell last month

Posted August 18, 2023 at 11:53 AM EDT

The North Carolina Department of Commerce says the state’s seasonally adjusted July unemployment rate was 3.3%, which is unchanged from June’s revised rate. But North Carolina’s unemployment rate decreased 0.4% point from a year ago. The rate is now the lowest it's been in more than a decade.

The number of employed people employed in the state increased by 81,640 over the year.

The national rate decreased 0.1%, to 3.5%

Mecklenburg courthouse is finally going digital

Posted August 18, 2023 at 11:27 AM EDT

It’s 2023, and Mecklenburg County’s courthouse is finally going digital.

Mecklenburg is in the second phase of the state’s rollout of the eCourts system, and the new electronic system will allow people to search and file paperwork for legal cases online for the first time.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts said Friday that the transition is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Mecklenburg was supposed to implement the electronic records in May, but the first phase of the rollout in Harnett, Lee, Johnston and Wake counties has been plagued with bugs and glitches. The state says it has worked with the vendor to improve the software’s reliability and functionality.

“This vital effort to transform our state courts and deliver digital access to the justice system for millions of North Carolinians continues to progress thanks to the tireless work of local officials and the legal community,” NCAOC Director Ryan Boyce said.

North Carolina courts still rely almost completely on paper. The state estimates 30 million sheets of paper are added to court files each year.

The system developed and being implemented by Tyler Technologies is being blamed for wrongful arrests and unlawful detentions.

Panthers will try to adjust offense tonight after scoreless first outing

Posted August 18, 2023 at 8:46 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers will try to do better Friday night when they go on the road to take on the New York Giants in their second preseason game. Despite a 27-0 loss to the New York Jets last week with a relatively basic offense, Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown says the score is not what’s most important right now.

"Well, I mean, our approach, regardless of whether it's vanilla or its dynamic from a playbook standpoint, execution is the overall goal. So it's always frustrating any time you don't get the results you've been working on," he said.

Kickoff at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is set for 7 pm

Smash-and-grab thieves at Concord Mills take $34,000 worth of jewelry

Posted August 18, 2023 at 8:44 AM EDT

The Concord Police Department is looking for suspects in a “smash-and-grab” at a Concord Mills jewelry store where over $34,000 worth of merchandise was stolen. It happened Wednesday, at about 6:30 p.m. at the Kay Jewelers store.

Four suspects entered the mall through a service corridor wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts and used a large hammer to smash a jewelry case and steal two Rolex watches. The suspects fled the scene before officers arrived. Surveillance video shows the suspects getting into a red Toyota RAV4 with a Georgia license plate at the back of the mall.

The tag displayed on the vehicle appears to be fictitious. Video shows the suspect vehicle exiting the mall and making a left onto Derita Road towards Charlotte. Anyone with information is asked to call the Concord Police Department.

Charlotte Museum of History set to move historic Siloam School building

Posted August 17, 2023 at 5:14 PM EDT

After six years, preparations have begun to move the historic Siloam School from its northeast Charlotte site.

The Rosenwald school that was built in the 1920s served the black community to give children an education despite segregation. After taking down the roof today the building will be moved to its permanent location at the Charlotte Museum of History.

Kenneth Lee Jr.

Fannie Flono is a trustee with the Charlotte Museum of History and chair of the project said this will be a vital education tool. "Now we'll be able to move it, restore it, use it to teach about history of that period, to teach about African Americans in education, teach about the ways that people can come together," said Flono

"The whole idea of what happened with Julius Rosenwald and Booker T Washington coming together to have a plan to build these schools to better educate African Americans."

Mecklenburg County had 26 Rosenwald schools; only seven exist today.

Panthers hoping to bounce back Friday in second preseason game

Posted August 17, 2023 at 9:24 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers are heading to New York Friday for their second preseason game against the Giants. Coach Frank Reich says the team is hoping for a better outcome than last week but will be missing several players with injuries.

"Players are so determined to get back on the field. So, you know, we kind of remain cautious but optimistic, you know what I mean? We don't wanna, you get a guy that gets something, you just, you don't want to put them in jeopardy. Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves and just give it an extra day or two but we'll take it case by case," he said.

Receiver Terrace Marshall, running back Miles Sanders, back-up quarterback Andy Dalton, offensive lineman Cade Mays and kicker Eddie Pineiro are all expected to miss the game.

The Panthers take on the Giants at 7 tomorrow night. They lost their preseason opener to the New York Jets 27-0.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board to discuss compliance with NC's new 'Parental Bill of Rights'

Posted August 17, 2023 at 9:23 AM EDT

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board’s policy committee will meet at 2 p.m. Friday to discuss how to revise local policies to meet the new Parental Bill of Rights law’s requirements. It will include a public hearing; speakers must sign up by 2 p.m. Thursday.

The General Assembly voted to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill yesterday. Here's a description of the bill, which is now law, from WUNC:

  • bill titled the "Parents' Bill of Rights" will limit instruction on LGBTQ topics in elementary schools and require teachers to notify parents if their child wants to use a different name or pronoun at school. That bill also includes other transparency requirements for schools, and it would require medical providers to get written permission from parents to treat patients under the age of 18.

111 CMS schools will offer free meals to all students this year

Posted August 16, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students at 111 of its 183 schools this year, compared with 68 schools last year. School nutrition director Cathy Essick said the increase comes from changes in the way North Carolina calculates poverty levels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses CMS for those meals, but only if the student selects at least one fruit or vegetable, Essick told a school board committee Wednesday.

"Unfortunately a lot of that is what ends up going in the trash can, so we do have a problem with that particular requirement," she said. "But what we’re hoping is that over time maybe they’ll take a bite of that broccoli or those carrots or that salad, whatever they’re having, and that will become something that they want to eat over time."

Students at other schools can also get free or discounted meals, but only if their parents fill out applications to show they meet income requirements.

NC lawmakers seek to regulate cannabis edibles and kratom

Posted August 16, 2023 at 4:21 PM EDT

State lawmakers want to regulate hemp edibles and kratom products that could be harmful to teens. Known as Delta-8 and Delta-9, the products contain varying levels of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana.

They’re often sold in convenience stores where anyone can buy them. The same is true for kratom, an herbal substance that functions as a stimulant but can have harmful side effects. Republican State Representative Jeff McNeely has introduced legislation to ban sales to people under age 18.

"One of the things that bothers me is a 10-year-old can basically walk into one of these smoke shops or one of these different little convenience stores and buy a hemp product. And we're not really sure what level of THC is in this," he said.

The bill would require manufacturers to test THC levels and ingredients before putting the products in stores. Retailers would need to get a license to sell the products. The legislation passed a House committee on Wednesday, but it’s unclear if it will make it to the governor’s desk before lawmakers end this year’s session.

A growing number of CBD stores in Charlotte are selling hemp-based products with psychoactive properties.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a northwest Charlotte homicide

Posted August 16, 2023 at 2:20 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a homicide reported this morning in northwest Charlotte.

A CMPD officer was alerted to a theft at a QuickTrip gas station on Bellhaven Boulevard around 10:30 am. The suspect fired a gun out of their vehicle window as the officer arrived and the vehicle pulled away. The vehicle immediately returned, and police say the suspect got into an altercation with another patron at the gas station. That patron shot and killed the theft suspect. CMPD took the person who shot at the theft suspect to the Law Enforcement Center in Uptown.

No charges have been announced, and neither person has been identified.

Carolina Panthers looking to bounce back after 27-0 drubbing by Jets

Posted August 16, 2023 at 1:06 PM EDT

After an unimpressive first preseason outing, the Carolina Panthers are back in practice and trying to find their mojo. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young, the top overall draft pick, said Wednesday that Saturday’s 27 to zero loss against the New York Jets isn’t representative of the team’s potential.

"And that's not who we want to be. That's not what we want to put on tape," he said. "I think throughout the week we've definitely had that, that mindset of wanting to improve, wanting to be better. So I think that's been something that's been universal throughout the team."

Head coach Frank Reich said the offense needs to perform better than they did in the shutout.

"As an offensive unit, this isn't just Bryce, but you obviously be better on third down and then, you know, get our run game going a little bit," he said. "Just overall on offense, we just need to have a better outing."

The Panthers head to the Meadowlands next to take on the New York Giants on Friday night at 7 pm.

SC grants paid parental leave to public school teachers

Posted August 16, 2023 at 7:50 AM EDT

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster will be in Rock Hill Wednesday morning for a ceremonial bill signing that allows school district employees across South Carolina to qualify for up to six weeks of paid parental leave. North Carolina last month enacted a law last month giving teachers up to eight weeks of maternity leave and four weeks of paternity leave.

Federal law has guaranteed parents up to 12 weeks off without losing their job since 1993, but it doesn’t require the time off to be paid. McMaster will be at South Pointe High School at 11 a.m.

Car dealership employees charged over salvage titles

Posted August 16, 2023 at 7:46 AM EDT

Following an investigation of a car dealership in Shelby that took several months, agents with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau have filed more than 400 charges against a dozen employees of Nissan of Shelby on Post Road.

In a press release, the state DMV said the initial investigation centered around the process used by individuals or dealers to rebuild salvage vehicles and the documents used to transfer of titles of those vehicles. During the investigation, information was found that led to additional charges.

The charges include failing to inspect vehicles, failing to deliver titles and failing to disclose damage.

Pipe bomb suspect identified after controlled explosion in Kannapolis

Posted August 15, 2023 at 3:37 PM EDT

Kannapolis Police have arrested a man following a traffic stop Tuesday morning that turned up a pipe bomb inside the man’s vehicle. Police say they stopped 41-year-old Jamie Stirewalt near South Main Street about 4 a.m. for having a fake vehicle registration and found the bomb as well as meth and marijuana during a search of the vehicle.

A bomb squad safely detonated the device, and no one was injured. Stirewalt is facing drug charges and possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

Home sales plunged last month in Charlotte, but prices still rose

Posted August 15, 2023 at 3:34 PM EDT

This summer has been blistering hot, but home sales are cold in Charlotte. That’s according to the latest numbers from Canopy, the Charlotte regional Realtor association. The number of homes sold in July was down almost 21% compared to the same month last year. But the number of homes for sale plunged even more, dropping 30%.

Even though the number of homes sold is falling, prices are still rising, with the average home selling for just under $477,000 dollars in the Charlotte region last month. That’s up 4% from last year. The median sale price rose 1.9%, to $392,250.

And homes are sitting on the market a lot longer. On average, houses spent 29 days on the market in July, almost double the same month last year.

The combination of high prices and high interest rates appears to be scaring off buyers. The Realtor association says home sales in the Charlotte region are now down to the same level they were a decade ago, in July 2023, when we were just starting to recover from the Great Recession.

“Certainly, sales activity this past summer has been much lower than previous years, but buyers are still in the market for homes, and granted sales could have been much stronger had there been more inventory.” said Tiffany Johannes, 2023 president of Canopy and a broker at RE/MAX Executive, in a statement. “And despite the 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 7% in July, buyer activity remains steady and even competitive in a number of areas. However, sellers, especially those who purchased in recent years at record low- interest rates, have little incentive to move. Unfortunately, these factors are creating the perfect affordability storm and may sideline a number of first-time and workforce housing buyers.”

Samaritan’s Purse helping with wildfire relief in Hawaii

Posted August 15, 2023 at 11:47 AM EDT

Boone-based aid group Samaritan’s Purse has sent 17 tons of emergency relief equipment and tools, as well as volunteers to aid with recovery from the deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

“What has happened in Hawaii is nothing short of devastating,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse in a statement.

The organization has been working in Hawaii since Thursday. Among the additional staff sent on the company's DC-8 aircraft to the island are Samaritan's Purse Chief Operating Officer Edward Graham.

Charlotte region under heat advisory again Tuesday

Posted August 15, 2023 at 7:42 AM EDT

With the heat index again expected to hit triple digits, Charlotte and the surrounding counties will be under a heat advisory for much of Tuesday.

The National Weather Service says the heat index — how hot it feels when taking humidity into account — will hit 103 degrees in Charlotte and 106 in Monroe and Rock Hill. The heat advisory will be in effect from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m.

"Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances," the NWS said. "Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening."

Charlotte FC tries to get on track after Leagues Cup loss leaves 'bitter' taste

Posted August 15, 2023 at 7:29 AM EDT

Charlotte FC has 11 matches left in the regular season and stands four points out of a playoff spot. The team won four straight matches in the Leagues Cup Tournament outside of Major League Soccer play before falling to Inter Miami and Lionel Messi on Friday.

Those teams were scheduled to play again this week, in MLS action but the league postponed that match. That means Charlotte doesn’t play again until a week from Saturday and coach Christian Lattanzio says he wants to focus on finishing matches as well as they start.

"We can be proud and hold our head up the way we played the whole tournament and to go out with this result is it leaves us a little bit, you know, bitter in the mouth. But, you feel like we've been punched in the face, but we go, we take it, we move forward, we are gonna be like Rocky, you know, we go down but we get up again," he said.

Charlotte hosts Los Angeles FC August 26 at Bank of America Stadium.

Overriding Gov. Cooper's vetoes is on the agenda this week in Raleigh

Posted August 14, 2023 at 8:30 PM EDT

State lawmakers are back in Raleigh this week, and overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes could be on the agenda.

Thanks to vacations and scheduling conflicts, the House and Senate had delayed action on bills the governor vetoed last month. Those include restrictions on healthcare access for transgender teens, changes to charter school regulations, and limitations on school curriculum dealing with LGBTQ topics.

Most of those bills are on the House’s calendar for Wednesday. Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon says other legislation could be considered but Republicans haven’t decided yet.

The General Assembly had hoped to end its current session before July. House Democratic Leader Robert Reives says the uncertain schedule is putting a strain on legislators.

"It’s tiresome, and in this case, I've got members who have not been able to plan a real vacation with their families, you know, some of them in years," he said.

The state budget won’t be ready for votes this week.

Plane crash kills two, knocks out power around Lake Hickory

Posted August 14, 2023 at 10:17 AM EDT

Two people died Sunday when a small plane struck a power line and crashed into Lake Hickory, a city official there said.

Sarah Killian, a spokesperson for the city of Hickory, said the crash happened just before noon.

The crash led to power outages for about 18,000 customers but Duke Energy said it rerouted power and restored service Sunday afternoon.

The names of the victims have not yet been released. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating with the National Transportation Safety Board.

CMS board holds public hearing Friday on parents’ rights changes

Posted August 14, 2023 at 10:12 AM EDT

In anticipation of the General Assembly’s veto override on SB 49, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will hold a Policy Committee meeting Friday on how the bill will affect local policy. The bill, which Republican sponsors titled “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” is a 12-page list of changes that public schools must make to give families a stronger voice in education, such as establishing procedures for parents to review classroom materials, notifying parents if students ask to be identified by different pronouns and creating a process for resolving parent concerns.

The meeting will include a public hearing. It starts at 2 p.m. Friday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. Sign up to speak by 2 p.m. Thursday, either online or by calling 980-343-5139. Comments can also be emailed to boardservices@cms.k12.nc.us.

Heat warning in effect around Charlotte, as heat index passes 100

Posted August 14, 2023 at 7:41 AM EDT

Sweltering heat returns to the Charlotte area Monday, with a heat advisory in effect between 11 am and 8 pm. That means people should limit time outside, and especially strenuous activities.

The National Weather Service says high temperatures are forecast to be near 96 degrees with heat index values — that’s what it feels like outside when taking humidity into account — is expected to approach 107 degrees.

It's back-to-school for calendar scofflaw school districts around Charlotte

Posted August 14, 2023 at 7:38 AM EDT

It’s the first day of classes Monday for students in Iredell-Statesville Schools, which is one of 15 North Carolina school districts that decided not to follow the state’s calendar law this year. The law requires most districts to wait until late August to open schools, in hopes of preserving a uniform vacation and tourism season.

But many district leaders say an earlier start allows high school students to take mid-year exams before winter break.

Gaston, Cleveland and Lincoln counties will bring their students back Wednesday.

Back to the grind for Carolina Panthers after shutout opener

Posted August 14, 2023 at 7:37 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers get back to work Monday after an ugly preseason opener against the New York Jets over the weekend. The 27-0 loss was the first time the team has been shutout in a preseason game since 2000, but head coach Frank Reich says the offense was intentionally basic.

"I just know what our philosophy has been, what my philosophy has been in preseason and when you're a new coaching staff, I just don't want to show too much. Some teams don't know the things we're gonna do and I, there's some of it I'm willing to take a, look I'm willing to take it on the chin a little bit in preseason to hide some things that we're gonna do in the regular season," Reich said.

The Panthers visit the New York Giants Friday night.

Update: Charlotte's escaped bull found, killed

Posted August 11, 2023 at 2:18 PM EDT

A 900-lb bull was found and euthanized late Friday in west Charlotte. It was the fifth day the animal had eluded capture. The dark brown longhorn escaped from a pasture on Monday as severe weather moved through the region. It had been last seen trotting near the Arlington neighborhood on the city’s outskirts, off Moore's Chapel Road, and on Nance Road.

Officials had tried to find the animal with a heat-seeking drone to no avail. The bull also bested its owner, who tried to capture it with a lasso.

At around 10 pm Friday, Animal Care & Control said it was located and euthanized by its owner. No other details were provided. Police simply said the bull was no longer missing.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Atlas One

NC House Democratic leader criticizes budget delays

Posted August 11, 2023 at 12:09 PM EDT

The top Democrat in the North Carolina House is criticizing the legislature’s delayed budget process. Republican legislative leaders now say the budget won’t get passed until September, making it more than two months late.

House Democratic Leader Robert Reives says his party isn’t involved in the negotiations, and he’s surprised GOP lawmakers haven’t reached an agreement by now. Reives told the WUNC Politics Podcast that Republicans should allow Medicaid expansion to take effect separately from the budget.

State officials will likely have to postpone their planned October launch that will add 600,000 people to the federal healthcare program.

"And so you're taking important issues that we've all agreed on, and you're holding them hostage for us to get a budget passed. My thing is decouple it — go ahead and get that passed, so that we stop losing this money. So you stop worrying about these tens of thousands of people who just rolled off of Medicaid that otherwise would have been covered," he said.

Republicans say Medicaid should be tied to the budget because it involves billions of dollars of funding.

Man exposes himself to, touches 15-year-old girl jogging in Charlotte, police say

Posted August 11, 2023 at 12:06 PM EDT

A flasher exposed himself to a teenage girl jogging in south Charlotte this morning and touched her inappropriately, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say. The 15-year-old girl was on McAlpine Creek Greenway near Elm Lane at about 9:30 a.m. when the man approached her.

Investigators say he was about six feet tall, Black, in his 20s with dreadlocks, wearing a dark sweatshirt and gray sweatpants. CMPD and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation say they’re increasing patrols on greenways throughout the city.

NC Board of Elections to vote whether to certify No Labels as official political party Sunday

Posted August 10, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT

The North Carolina Board of Elections is scheduled to vote Sunday on whether to officially recognize the group No Labels as a political party in the state. That would allow No Labels to field a presidential candidate in 2024.

The elections board has said No Labels got the nearly 14,000 signatures needed to be recognized, but the board hasn’t yet voted to recognize the party.

Last month the board chair, Democrat Alan Hirsch, said he was concerned about whether No Labels had given the people who signed the petition enough information about what they were signing. The board delayed making a decision.

Former North Carolina Republican governor Pat McCrory, a No Labels co chair, said he’s frustrated by the delay.

“We’re extremely concerned that this non-elected body is playing politics regarding the people’s right to have another party on the ballot,” McCrory said.

Last year, the board was skeptical of the Green Party’s efforts to get on the ballot for the 2022 election, though it ultimately said yes.

Some Democrats are worried No Labels could pull moderate voters from Biden, tipping the election to Trump. The group has said it may run a third-party candidate if the likely 2024 matchup is Donald Trump against Joe Biden.

Update: A 900-lb bull is still on the loose in west Charlotte

Posted August 10, 2023 at 3:01 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control says there was another sighting early Thursday morning of the 900-pound longhorn bull that's on the loose in Charlotte. Police responded and called the bull's owner around 1 a.m., when the animal was sighted at Nance Road. The bull ran into nearby woods before it was caught.

The bull has been roaming since Monday evening after it escaped when it was spooked by the storm. Despite its large horns and nearly half-ton size, the bull has so far escaped detection, including by the CMPD SWAT team using heat-sensing drones.

If you see the bull, keep your distance call 311.

A longhorn bull
The escaped bull

Second driver arrested in 100-mph street racing crash that killed teen

Posted August 10, 2023 at 2:20 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have made a second arrest in a weekend crash that left 17-year old Ivan Galvez dead. CMPD arrested 35-year old Javoris Williams on Wednesday. After further investigation, CMPD said they found Williams was the driver of a second Camaro that was racing Paul Avila’s Camaro, the vehicle that they say caused the crash Saturday on West Arrowood Road.

During a press conference Thursday, CMPD said both drivers were racing at speeds over 100 mph.

"This case is heartbreaking and what makes it so heartbreaking as it was preventable. The life of a young 17 year old teenager was cut short because two people made a decision to act recklessly and, and engage in street racing. The parents lost a son. Ivan was driving home from work, turning into his neighborhood, he was almost home. As a parent of a teenager strikes close to home," said Deputy Chief Tonya Arrington.

Williams has been charged with second degree murder, reckless driving and spontaneous speed competition. CMPD also impounded his vehicle.

Back-to-school day is here for some districts around Charlotte

Posted August 10, 2023 at 8:25 AM EDT

Summer's over, kids: It’s back to school Thursday for students in Cabarrus County Schools. Meanwhile, Gaston, Iredell-Statesville, Lincoln and Cleveland County schools begin classes next week.

All of those districts are among 15 statewide defying a North Carolina calendar law that requires most districts to wait until late August to bring students back. Leaders of many districts have urged state lawmakers to allow an earlier start so high school students can take mid-year exams before winter break. But the tourism industry has pushed for a uniform vacation season.

The first day of classes for Charlotte-Mecklenburg School students is August 28.

Carolina Panthers cancel last joint practice with New York Jets

Posted August 10, 2023 at 8:24 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers said Thursday morning that they've called off their second and last joint practice with the New York Jets in Spartanburg, S.C., because of the threat of bad weather.

The practice won't be rescheduled, and the teams have Friday off. They're set to play each other in the first preseason game Saturday at 4 pm.

Wednesday's joint practice drew crowds and fan interest, with people turning out to see veteran Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and rookie Panthers quarterback Bryce Young, the top overall pick in the draft.

Charlotte FC will postpone August 20 regular season matchup against Inter Miami

Posted August 9, 2023 at 1:18 PM EDT

Charlotte FC will postpone their August 20th regular season matchup against Inter Miami due to both teams moving on to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup.

The new date for the match will be announced at a later date. Charlotte will take on Miami and Lionel Messi on Friday at 8:30 pm

Passenger killed when CMPD officers try to stop speeding driver

Posted August 9, 2023 at 11:52 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are investigating a fatal crash that happened in south Charlotte on Sunday when officers tried to stop a speeding vehicle.

The crash happened at around 10 pm near 6600 Pineville-Matthews Road, near the McAlpine Creek greenway. When officers arrived, they found a 2010 Acura TL on the right side of the road with passenger-side damage, and a 2005 Infiniti G35 with damage to its front. Paramedics transported 33-year old Sheronda Wilson, who was the passenger in the Acura, to the hospital. She was later pronounced dead. According to the initial investigation, 26-year old Gregory Rhoads was speeding on Pineville-Matthews Road in the Infiniti.

A CMPD officer flipped on their lights and sirens to catch the vehicle and conduct a traffic stop. Before the officer could catch Rhoads,police say his Infiniti ran a red light and hit the passenger side of the Acura, driven by 31-year old Kenneth Fasion. Both Rhoads and Fasion were transported to Atrium Health main with serious injuries.

Investigators said excessive speed, failing to stop for a police vehicle and running a red light were contributing factors to the crash.

On Monday, Rhoads was released from the hospital and was arrested. Rhoads has been charged with second degree Murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell and distribute, maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

CMPD's internal affairs office is investigating the incident."

Aaron Rodgers, Jets practice with Panthers ahead of preseason opener

Posted August 9, 2023 at 10:35 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers welcome Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets on Wednesday for joint practice sessions over the next two days ahead of the first preseason game Saturday afternoon. Coach Frank Reich says coaches are wary of fights that sometimes scuffles break out in these joint sessions.

"The good thing is with the Jets, you know, we're going to work real hard the first day and the second day is going to be much lighter. So a lot of times the fighting comes the second day. So that's been my experience anyway. So, you know, we'll minimize the opportunity for that. We have a little bit of work with them that second day, we're going to work together a little bit, but we're also going to work separate a little bit. So, because it's pretty close to the game as well," said Reich.

The teams took the field at Wofford College in Spartanburg on Wednesday morning, and again Thursday morning at 9. They play Saturday at 4 pm.

Tornadoes confirmed Monday in Charlotte region; power outages persist

Posted August 9, 2023 at 8:13 AM EDT

As cleanup and power restoration continues, the National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes in the Charlotte region Monday night.

A 50-yard-wide EF-0, with peak winds of 85 mph, was confirmed for 1.8 miles just south of Lake Norman — along with an EF-1, with peak winds of 110 mph that tracked from Catawba County and into Iredell County before ending in Rowan County.

The EF-1 tornado was 550 yards wide for more than 37 miles.

In addition, a swath of significant straight-line wind occurred across central Catawba County.

Duke Energy said Wednesday that just over 7,000 people are without power in the area this morning. Most of those are near Hickory, Mooresville and Salisbury.

Electric buses are coming to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Posted August 8, 2023 at 8:36 PM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is about to introduce electric school buses to its fleet. The school board voted Tuesday to accept state grants to buy the district’s first three electric buses. And the board approved an application for $10.8 million in federal money to buy 27 more.

Electric buses reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution, and improving air quality is one of the CMS board’s goals. At more than $400,000 each, they’re also far more expensive than traditional diesel buses.

CMS expects to run 840 buses this school year. That includes 108 propane buses, which Chief Operating Officer Brian Schultz says is the largest fleet in North Carolina. Those buses also reduce emissions.

“The four new buses will provide cleaner air on the bus, in the loading areas and in the community at large,” said board chair Elyse Dashew, in a statement. “There is more to do, but this is an important step in improving air quality for our students and the community at large.”

Atrium Health warns of slight uptick in COVID cases

Posted August 8, 2023 at 3:57 PM EDT

Atrium Health said Tuesday that hospitals in the area are starting to see a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As the fall respiratory virus season begins, doctors are urging people to take precautions early. Atrium Health’s chief epidemiologist Doctor Katie Passaretti said hospitals in some counties will see more increases than others.

"I would say, as we've seen in the past, the northern part of Charlotte tends to get hit a little bit harder earlier. So the Cabarrus and Stanly Counties and whatnot, but we are certainly seeing similar trends in Mecklenburg County and the counties to the south, as well," she said.

But Passaretti also said the post-vaccine COVID landscape hasn't seen the same dire rates of hospitalizations.

"Luckily, while we've seen that increase in the community, it's translated only into a small uptick in hospitalization. So we're seeing that decoupling of COVID increases mild illness in the community and huge increases in hospitalization that kind of threaten our health care system," she said.

Passaretti also said if you’re feeling ill but don’t need emergency department care, Atrium has virtual care options to help from overcrowding at hospitals.

Fuel spill fouls Little Sugar Creek

Posted August 8, 2023 at 3:31 PM EDT

Charlotte Storm Water Services officials say a car crash caused about 20 gallons of diesel fuel to leak into Little Sugar Creek near uptown. Crews have begun to clean up the spill, with measures including the placement of floating booms in the creek. Officials say a strong odor was still present along the greenway Tuesday afternoon, but there are no known impacts on aquatic life nor threats to humans.

Duke Energy posts a quarterly loss as mild weather reduces demand

Posted August 8, 2023 at 9:51 AM EDT

Duke Energy reported a $234 million quarterly loss on Tuesday, in part because of mild spring weather that slowed electricity sales. Higher interest rates also were a factor as the company missed Wall Street's profit estimates.

Chief financial officer Brian Savoy told WFAE the company has reduced spending on outside services, slowed non-critical projects and limited travel and overtime to make up for lower revenues. He said Duke remains on track to meet its previous profit estimate of $5.55 to $5.75 a share this year.

"We're reaffirming our 2023 guidance with the actions we have underway. And our long-term (annual earnings) growth of 5 to 7% is intact." Savoy said.

"The underlying fundamentals of our business are very strong. We're seeing strong customer growth - 1.8% residential growth - across the regions we serve. Economic development in our territories is in the billions (of dollars) every year. And that's driving electric demand in the future. We just had this temporary phenomenon that we need to manage through 2023," Savoy said.

Savoy and CEO Lynn Good were scheduled to hold a conference call with analysts at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Charlotte FC will play Messi in tournament

Posted August 8, 2023 at 7:46 AM EDT

Charlotte FC advanced to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup Tournament with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Monday night. Patrick Agyemang tied the game late, then Houston accidentally put the ball in their own goal to seal the victory.

Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said his team tweaked its strategy in the second half.

"It was a big challenge for us to try to find out how to press them in the best possible way. And in the first half, I thought that it took quite a while for us to do that. But then after we grew into the game, I thought that we had chances," he said.

Charlotte will face Inter Miami and Lionel Messi in Ft. Lauderdale Friday with the kickoff time to be announced soon.

State budget won't be passed until September at earliest, delaying Medicaid expansion

Posted August 8, 2023 at 7:45 AM EDT

House Speaker Tim Moore says state budget delays will now extend until next month. He told reporters Monday that scheduling conflicts will likely prevent lawmakers from passing the budget bill until after Labor Day.

"At this point, you’re talking about a September date for actual passage – signing into law and all of that. I think you should have significant progress made in the next couple of weeks, so you have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to be," Moore said.

The budget is now two months late. Moore says he’s meeting with Senate leaders this week to resolve about 70 remaining points of disagreement in the $30 billion spending plan. The delay would mean that Medicaid expansion won't launch in October as state leaders had hoped. Instead, a spokesperson for North Carolina's health department says the launch would be pushed back to December at the earliest.

Charlotte will have to spend more on infrastructure for new tennis complex, tournament

Posted August 7, 2023 at 4:38 PM EDT

The city of Charlotte says it needs to spend an additional $37 million on roads and sewer lines to help developers build a $400 million tennis complex west of the airport.

The city council has already voted to spend $65 million to support the tennis project. Mecklenburg County and the state have also said they would spend $55 million combined - bringing the total public investment to $110 million. But at a City Council committee meeting Monday, the city’s economic development director Tracy Dodson said the city needs to spend more.

She said the money to extend West Boulevard, as well as Garrison Road and Dixie River Road needs to be allocated quickly to lure a prestigious tournament.

"I would this say this infrastructure is critical part of what we need for building out the tennis tournament," she said.

Unlike the $110 million, the $37 million would eventually be paid back…most likely by the River District’s master developer, Crescent Communities.

Charleston-based Beemok Capital has said it may move the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament from Cincinnati to Charlotte. That’s critical to the larger tennis complex being built.

The Charlotte City Council Monday voted 10-0 to help subsidize for a new tennis complex in the River District. Charleston-based Beemok Sports has proposed building a 14,000-seat tennis stadium and 40 courts on a 50-acre site.

Carolina Panthers prepare to open preseason against Aaron Rodgers and the Jets

Posted August 7, 2023 at 8:40 AM EDT

After two days of practice with full pads at training camp in Spartanburg, the Carolina Panthers are taking a breather Monday before Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets come to Charlotte later this week for joint practice sessions ahead of their first preseason game Saturday afternoon. Head Coach Frank Reich says the team is now tweaking its plays.

"I think this last block has been good, able to finish up our installs, finish up our installs, get kind of everything in that's going to be in. Now, we can focus on kind of tightening things up, narrowing things down, pairing things down, really focusing on the core of what we'll do and it's going to be really good to get the Jets in here and for us to have a chance to compete against them," said Reich.

The Panthers will take the field at Wofford College again Tuesday before the Jets visit Wednesday and Thursday. This weekend, the team announced it has signed pass rusher Justin Houston. The 34-year-old four-time pro bowler played for the Baltimore Ravens for the past two seasons and played for Reich in Indianapolis before that.

Two killed in Charlotte this weekend

Posted August 7, 2023 at 8:38 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say two men were shot and killed in separate incidents over the weekend, in north and east Charlotte.

The first killing was reported early Saturday morning on Firestreak Drive, off Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road near Latta Nature Preserve in north Charlotte. Police say they were called for a shooting and found Rudolph Hernandez, 39, dead. The shooting was domestic violence-related, according to investigators, and they have a suspect. They didn't release any other details.

The second killing was reported Saturday afternoon, just before 3 pm. Police say they were called to a house on Tipperary Place, off Shamrock Drive in east Charlotte, for a report of an assault with a deadly weapon.

They found a man with a gunshot wound, who was declared dead at the scene. Police haven't released any other details, but say they're not looking for a suspect.

Charlotte FC plays for a chance to face Messi in tournament

Posted August 7, 2023 at 8:30 AM EDT

Charlotte FC takes a three-match winning streak to the pitch Monday night, visiting the Houston Dynamo in the Leagues Cup Tournament between teams in Major League Soccer and Liga MX in Mexico. Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina says stabilizing the lineup – especially among players nearest to him on the field, has helped the team.

"When we change every game because of injuries, because of cards, because of somebody play good or bad. I don't know, coach choose the first 11. But yeah, it's like, some kind of testing for us how we can adapt, as soon as possible. But, normally, it is a little bit easier when you have the same last line," he said.

The Round of 16 match is set to kickoff at 9:30 pm. The winner faces Inter Miami with Lionel Messi on Friday.

Charlotte FC advances to round of 16 after penalty kick win

Posted August 4, 2023 at 11:05 AM EDT

Charlotte FC won on a penalty kick shootout Thursday night over Mexican team Cruz Azul in the League’s Cup tournament in Texas. The teams were tied nil-nil at the end of regulation time. Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio said the win shows progress for his team.

"For us as a club to go far in this competition, to go as far as we are going at the moment, it makes me, but everybody obviously, proud because it is in itself to advance is an achievement," he said.

Charlotte advances to the round of 16 in the competition and will face the Houston Dynamo from Major League Soccer on the road Monday — hoping to advance to the quarterfinals.

Arts & Science Council President Krista Terrell resigns, group to seek new leader

Posted August 4, 2023 at 11:03 AM EDT

Arts & Science Council President Krista Terrell has resigned and will leave the organization by the end of this year after 21 years at the organization, the past two of them spent as its president. In a news release this morning, the Arts and Science Council says it plans to continue the momentum it has built over the last several years, from expanding funding opportunities to creative individuals to continuing to invest in grassroots, emerging and longstanding cultural organizations.

“It has truly been a pleasure and highlight of my career to work for ASC. I am extremely proud of the work that has been accomplished under my leadership,” Terrell said in a statement. “We have granted more dollars to creative individuals in the history of the organization, put teaching artists to work in Pre-K-12 schools while continuing to listen and respond to the needs and desires of Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents.

Mecklenburg's air quality improves, but it's slipping post-COVID

Posted August 3, 2023 at 2:17 PM EDT

Mecklenburg County’s air quality has improved dramatically over the past 15 years, but it’s starting to slip again. That’s what Peter McGrath, the county’s air quality committee chairman, told county commissioners last night.

"The level of green days has increased since 2007. It's, you know, a little bit worse this year than it was a couple of years ago during the COVID shutdown, which you would expect because increased driving has effects on air quality," said McGrath.

Since 2007, the number of days rated as good, or green, air quality in Mecklenburg has increased from just over 100 to more than 200 for each of the last three years. With cars idle and the world shut down in 2020, Mecklenburg saw its best-ever year, recording nearly 300 green air quality days.

That fell to just over 200 for 2021 and 2022. McGrath said in addition to more driving, wildfire smoke that’s blanketed the region for much of the summer is making our air quality worse.

Mecklenburg County

CMPD investigating sexual assault in the Woodlawn area

Posted August 3, 2023 at 12:35 PM EDT

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are investigating a sexual assault reported in the Woodlawn area on Wednesday.

CMPD is looking for the public’s help to identify a male suspect. According to CMPD, the victim heard footsteps behind her before being attacked by a man. This occurred at 200 West Woodlawn Road around 12:45 am. CMPD Sergeant Allison Rooks said nearby establishments helped with the initial investigation.

"There’s a multitude of businesses, both that are open during that time and closed and so the detectives in the sexual assault unit did a phenomenal job and worked with the community and I would tell you they were very cooperative," Rooks said.

"The businesses, there's a multitude of businesses. and we were able to get a great photo of the suspect to put out. But there are, there are hotels, there's restaurants, gas stations, a multitude of, of different businesses."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Atlas One App

Rooks described the suspect as a Hispanic male who is 5 '10 in his mid 20’s with short dark hair and was wearing a dark colored baseball cap, light shirt, a floral patterned neck gaiter and camouflage shorts.

The suspect may also have scratches on his face. CMPD said anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Michael Jordan completes Charlotte Hornets sale to new owners

Posted August 3, 2023 at 11:25 AM EDT

The sale of the majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets from Michael Jordan to an investor group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall has been finalized. The team has a press conference set for 1 pm Thursday with the new owners.

The sale price was not disclosed, but media reports said the Hornets were valued at $3 billion in the agreement. Jordan didn't sell his entire interest in the team — he will remain with the organization as a minority owner.

“Our vision is to take the Hornets to the next level, both on and off the court. We will look to build a highly competitive basketball team, develop innovative business practices, give back to our community and connect with our fans. We plan to further invest in the team, the facilities and the fan experience, with the goal of delivering a winner to our fans throughout the Carolinas,” the new owners said in a joint statement.

Jordan had little on-court success as a franchise owner. The Hornets only made the playoffs three times since 2010, and failed to advance each time. The Hornets' regular season record since 2010 is 423 wins and 600 losses.

But he did return the Hornets name to Charlotte — the team was called the Bobcats when he bought it. In an open letter to fans Thursday, Jordan praised the community's reaction.

"I will never forget the excitement when we brought the Hornets name back to its rightful home in Charlotte, uniting the histories and fanbases of both the original Hornets and the Bobcats. Our fans told us how important this was, and the amazing level of support and enthusiasm proved their point," he said.

U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop to run for N.C. Attorney General

Posted August 3, 2023 at 10:12 AM EDT

Eighth District Republican Congressman Dan Bishop will run for North Carolina Attorney General. WBT reports Bishop has informed the National Republican Congressional Committee of his decision. Tom Murry is also running on the Republican side.

Democrats Tim Dunn and Charles Ingram have also announced they’re running for the post. Bishop's move will open up a Congressional seat east of Charlotte, potentially setting up an intense primary in the Republican-dominated district.

Growing road hazard: More trucks are parked on exit ramps, highways in NC

Posted August 3, 2023 at 9:30 AM EDT

The State Board of Transportation wants to address the growing number of trucks parked on exit ramps and alongside highways. A study found that more than 80% of the state’s truck parking spaces are routinely full. That means truckers needing a break will use illegal and sometimes dangerous places to park. Transportation board member Stephen Rosenburgh said at a board meeting this week that the state needs to take action.

"Nothing’s perfect but we have to start somewhere, or this only gets worse. And as you identified, this is getting worse every month," he said.

Possible solutions could include partnering with private companies to turn abandoned rest stops into truck parking lots. If the state builds more truck parking, it will need permission from the legislature.

Mecklenburg approves incentives for EV fast-charging company

Posted August 2, 2023 at 8:48 PM EDT

Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted Wednesday night to approve $145,000 worth of incentives for Alpitronic, an Italian company that makes ultra-fast electric-vehicle charging stations. The company says it will locate its U.S. headquarters and service center in Charlotte and create 300 jobs paying an average of more than $90,000 a year.

County commissioner Vilma Leake said she’s worried Mecklenburg doesn’t have the workforce to fill those jobs.

"We are finding a problem today of finding people who will work and want to work in Mecklenburg County. That's why I'm lifting that up. Not against the process, not against bringing the people here — if we're gonna have people who will work," she said.

County officials assured Leake they would have job training to help workers prepare for all the roles. Alpitronic is in line to receive more than $3.1 million total in state and local incentives.

Unemployment ticks up as more workers look for jobs

Posted August 2, 2023 at 4:21 PM EDT

New unemployment figures for North Carolina’s counties were released Wednesday. The state Commerce Department says unemployment rates that haven’t yet been seasonally adjusted increased in 86 of North Carolina’s counties in June, decreased in five, and remained unchanged in nine.

  • Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate at 6.4% while Swain County had the lowest at 2.7%.
  • Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate increased from 3.3% in May to 3.4% in June.
  • All fifteen of the state’s metro areas experienced increases. Among the metro areas, Rocky Mount had the highest rate at 5.2% while Asheville had the lowest at 2.9%.

When compared to the same month last year, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decreased in 99 counties and increased in one.
You can find more detailed information at the NC Department of Commerce.

Free IDs available for voters from county boards of elections

Posted August 2, 2023 at 2:31 PM EDT

If you are a registered voter and don’t have a proper identification card to vote in North Carolina, there’s a solution. The state board of elections said Wednesday that voters can now go to their county board of elections office to get a free ID.

No special document will be required to obtain the photo ID cards. Voters will need to provide their name, date of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security number and have their picture taken. Voters can also get a free ID from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. Acceptable IDs for voting include driver's licenses, military IDs and many college ID cards.

North Carolina voters will be required to show photo ID for the first time in this fall's elections.

“Any voter who does not have an acceptable ID card for voting can now get a free ID from their county board of elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections, in a statement. “State Board staff has worked diligently with the county boards of elections over the past couple of months to get the necessary software and hardware in place for ID printing.”

You can see a full list of acceptable forms of identification online.

Cycling education program kicks off with event at an East Charlotte school

Posted August 2, 2023 at 1:28 PM EDT

There's a new kind of garden at Winterfield Elementary School — a traffic garden.

The program at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is meant to help students to learn cycling safety. The Traffic Gardens are small-scale, model streetscapes for educational programs to show students how to ride safely and encourage them to bike to school. Michael Eastwood is the Mecklenburg County Public Health Safe Routes to School coordinator who leads the program and says this is a great step to get kids rolling.

"So we're looking to increase safe ways for people to bike," Eastwood said.

"So for this as an education piece is to help families and kids feel comfortable riding on roads. But also the next generation of drivers, if they're coming up as cyclists, they have a different mindset when they drive.  Now, a cyclist should be there as part of this. They understand that it can be used for fun, but for transportation and so it's kind of that culture mind shift to kind of catch up or get ahead of infrastructure change. So it's kind of that 1-2 punch."

Traffic gardens have also been installed at Oakhurst STEAM Academy and Winding Springs Elementary School.

Duke Energy seeks rate increase in SC for higher fuel costs

Posted August 2, 2023 at 10:05 AM EDT
Duke Energy's W.S. Lee natural gas-fired power plant in Anderson County, SC.
Duke Energy
Duke Energy's W.S. Lee natural gas-fired power plant in Anderson County, SC.

Duke Energy residential customers in South Carolina would see their bills rise an average of 7.1% this fall if regulators approve the company's request to increase rates because of rising fuel costs.

A typical home customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would pay an extra $9.23 on their monthly bill, which would increase to $138.59.

Duke is also requesting increases of 5.6% for commercial customers and 6.2% for large industrial customers.

The South Carolina state Public Service Commission will hold public hearings before ruling on the request, which would take effect November 1.

Carolina Panthers FanFest comes to uptown Wednesday, with parties and street closures

Posted August 2, 2023 at 9:16 AM EDT

The Carolina Panthers annual Fan Fest event is Wednesday evening at Bank of America Stadium in Uptown Charlotte. Music, football, and fireworks will all be a part of the event. Tuesday after practice head coach Frank Reich said players are eager to be on their home field, but said the work going on as training camp continues is important even if it isn’t as flashy as Fan Fest.

“There's no stone that can be left unturned. I know, you know, all these players are good in so many ways. But our mentality is we got a scratch and claw for incremental improvement in every area. Incremental. You know, these players are already so good. But what can we do? We can have small incremental improvement in every area," said Reich.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m., but uptown streets around the stadium, like South Mint Street, Graham Street and Brooklyn Village Avenue will begin closing at 11 a.m.

With bus drivers in short supply, local school systems hold hiring fairs

Posted August 1, 2023 at 9:01 PM EDT

With less than a month until school starts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Union County schools will hold hiring fairs Thursday in hopes of filling bus driver vacancies and other support jobs.

CMS still needs about 50 drivers to staff its fleet of 840 buses. Spokesperson Tom Miner says the district is offering incentives.

"There’s a $1,500 sign-on bonus for drivers as well as a $3,000 sign-on bonus for technicians," said Miner.

Union County is trying to fill 21 vacancies, with a fleet of 210 buses. Its hourly pay is slightly below the CMS rate of $17.75 an hour — but the district says incentives can bump Union County drivers up to $18.50.

Both hiring fairs include support jobs such as custodians and school cafeteria staff, but not teachers.

The CMS hiring fair is at South County library in Charlotte and the Union County event is at the district’s transportation center in Monroe. Both are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. Both districts start classes on Aug. 28.

New public beach, park in Belmont

Posted August 1, 2023 at 8:19 PM EDT

Gaston County officials said there will soon be a new public beach near Belmont, thanks to a lease between Duke Energy and the county. The Gaston County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement for the county to operate the 68-acre Southpoint Access recreation area on the Catawba River.

The area will include boat ramps, fishing piers, a swimming beach and more. Duke Energy proposed the idea to the county in 2022 and has invested $7 million into the area.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for the County,” Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Hart said. “This provides us an extra park in a very busy and growing part of the county where land is difficult to come by right now.”

A beach on a lake
SouthPoint Access

NC needs more money to handle big jump in new business filings

Posted August 1, 2023 at 8:18 PM EDT

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall says her department needs more funding to handle an increase in business filings. Marshall called on state lawmakers during Tuesday's Council of State meeting to fund more positions and higher salaries.

She’s seen a 70% increase in filings to create new businesses, but the filing fees aren’t being used to help her agency keep up.

"The reality is this chronic underfunding and understaffing at the department is having a detrimental impact on the department's ability to deliver the services. Our business community rightfully expects, resulting in longer processing times and wait times, and that cuts into their efficiency and their profits," she said.

The latest budget proposal adds three positions to the secretary of state’s office, and most state workers would get small raises. Lawmakers hope to pass a final budget by the end of this month.

Mecklenburg County sells developer uptown land for $10.3 million

Posted August 1, 2023 at 12:45 PM EDT

A development that could reshape part of uptown is underway after years of waiting, Mecklenburg County officials say.

The county and the developer behind Brooklyn Village have completed the sale of land for Brooklyn Village South. This is phase one of the Brooklyn Village Redevelopment project by developer BK Partners, which has been in the works since 2015.

The first phase makes up 5.7 acres at the intersection of East Brooklyn Village Avenue and South McDowell Street, which the developer bought for $10,3 million.

The redevelopment will include apartments, office, hotel, retail and park space. BK Partners will demolish the Walton Plaza office building, and construction is scheduled to begin in the fall.

Brooklyn Village is being built on the site of the former Brooklyn neighborhood, an African American part of uptown that was cleared out in the 1960s to make way for the city and county's government buildings and new roads.

Gov. Cooper to tout NC economy in Charlotte

Posted August 1, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper is visiting Charlotte again on Tuesday.

He’s hosting an event with business and education leaders celebrating North Carolina being named by CNBC as "America's top state for business" for the second straight year.

Cooper will be at Central Piedmont Community College’s Parr Center on Elizabeth Avenue at 12:30 p.m.