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Local News

Jan. 23-30: The Week In Review From WFAE

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Dante Miller
/
WFAE
Voters wait outside Beatties Ford Library during the early voting period for the 2020 general election. North Carolina’s Black voter turnout in the 2020 general election ticked up 4% from 2016.

Election Results And Ramifications Just Now Appearing

It's nearly February, and somehow we're just now seeing the effects of and the full results from the November election. Last week we learned that President Biden won nearly every Charlotte precinct and North Carolina's Black voter turnout was up 4% (likely thanks to those voting for and against former President Trump). And although North Carolina largely stayed out the election controversy spotlight this year, there have been plenty of partisan fights throughout the years over the bipartisan election board that administers those elections.

Oh, and some other big news that happened this week that was tangentially connected to the November election: The U.S. House of Representatives transmitted the article of impeachment for President Trump to the Senate. That means Trump's trial will start next week.

And we're already looking forward to the next election in Charlotte, which might have to be delayed because 2020 census data used to draw maps is not expected until summer. Those elections would include Charlotte City Council and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

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Kelly Sikkema
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 400 school-age children in Mecklenburg County tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Speaking of schools, CMS is poised to return to in-classroom instruction after Mecklenburg County's health director issued a directive extension that advises people in the county to stick to virtual options where possible through the end of February -- but also says in-person instruction can be safe with proper precautions. But there's some question of how many COVID-19 cases have actually been in CMS schools because contact tracers aren't always linking kids who test positive with the schools they attend (even if they are doing so virtually).

Meanwhile, some normalcy continues in our world -- as in, the perpetual argument over how and what to best teach children. WFAE's Ann Doss Helms had the fascinating story of how North Carolina education officials are split over how -- or whether -- to teach about racism, identity and discrimination. The state board is on its fifth version of revised standards and still seemed to have very different opinions in a meeting last week.

And there's some good news-bad news when it comes to the coronavirus this week. Good news: Case numbers and test positivity rates have been steadily declining. Bad news: New variants from the U.K. and South Africa have been identified in the Carolinas and deaths remain high. North Carolina will likely reach 10,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in early February.

And there is one more casualty of both the coronavirus and a general trend toward online shopping: Charlotte mainstay Belk filed for bankruptcy this week. The store says it plans to keep open all locations, however.

Finally, this week, WFAE also featured a three-part series, "Asbestos Town," by reporter David Boraks, about an old asbestos mill in Davidson and the divide it has caused in the town and the historically Black neighborhood nearby. Make sure to tune in at 6 p.m. today for a special broadcast of the full series, and join us for a community conversation Monday at 7 p.m. Register here.

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Davidson College Archives
An aerial photo of the Linden Mill, later the Carolina Asbestos Company, with smokestack, in downtown Davidson. Main Street and Davidson College Presbyterian Church are at the bottom. The photo is probably from the 1950s or 1960s.

SPECIAL SERIES: ASBESTOS TOWN
Old factory complexes across North Carolina are finding new lives, but in downtown Davidson, developers have tried for years to redevelop an aging cotton mill without success. That's because cancer-causing asbestos is buried on the site. Between the cost of cleanup and the risk of stirring up asbestos, nobody has been willing to take on the job.

ICYMI: MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM LAST WEEK

6K Meals Support Latino Restaurants, Those Struggling Due To COVID-19

Thousands of cars lined up at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday night at a massive event organized by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce Charlotte handing out 6,000 free meals.

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Gwendolyn Glenn
The Friendship 9 gather in 2015 when their convictions from staging a sit-in at a Rock Hill, South Carolina, diner in 1961 were dismissed.

'Friendship 9' Story Told In New Documentary By Charlotte Reporter

In 1961, a group of Friendship College students in Rock Hill, South Carolina, staged a sit-in at the McCrory's segregated lunch counter. They were arrested. Six years ago, that conviction was vacated, and their story is being told in a new WBTV documentary.

What Bankruptcy Means For Belk Going Forward

Like many department stores, Charlotte-based Belk has struggled recently, and the pandemic made that worse. In this week's BizWorthy, the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter's Tony Mecia joins us to talk about what this bankruptcy could mean.

Pandemic Forces DA To Refocus Priorities On Violent Crimes

Mecklenburg County’s district attorney says he refocused his office’s priorities when it comes to which cases to prosecute. However, according to a recent report, police are still arresting people for low-level drug charges even if they will not face prosecution.

NC Ranks Low In Maternal And Infant Health, But The Crisis Is Widespread

American women are less likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth than women in many other developed nations. And data shows African American women and their babies are the most likely to die. Now Congress may consider measures to address the problem.

CMS Superintendent Halfway Through Contract; Extension Unclear

Earnest Winston is now halfway through his three-year contract as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the school board chair says the board has yet to discuss extending it.

Murals Help Tell History Amid Charlotte Development

A new mural in Charlotte's Historic West End pays homage to eight legendary Black musicians with North Carolina roots. It's just the latest piece of public art in the area that seeks to preserve and promote history as development encroaches.

COMMENTARY
On his way out the White House door, Donald Trump granted presidential pardons to 74 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his On My Mind commentary, wants us to remember one of those pardons that hits close to home.

BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS
This winter, during the pandemic, 40% of Americans report dealing with at least one mental health or drug-related problem. Isolation may be a driving factor. We spoke with an author who experienced her own period of painful isolation about the realities of loneliness and how to get through it.

COVID-19 vaccine
Courtesy Atrium Health
More COVID-19 vaccines are being given each week. The latest FAQ City episode examines why some African Americans are hesitant to get the vaccine.

NEW PODCAST EPISODES
In a recent report, Charlotte ranked 111th out of 200 top cities for music fans. But if you ask Charlotte creative leader Tim Scott Jr., who’s been the artist-in-residence at Charlotte Center City Partners and toured the world with Grammy Award-winning North Carolina group The Foreign Exchange, you’ll hear how the Queen City deserves to sit higher up on the list of music cities. He talks about it in the latest Amplifier.

In November, The Pew Research Center found that 42% of African Americans would take the COVID-19 vaccine — the lowest among any other racial and ethnic group. Davida Jackson of Charlotte wanted to know why. The latest FAQ City examines the history behind the distrust of medicine among many Black residents.

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