June 23, 2024
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Charlotte firefighters put out large home blaze

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Firefighters extinguished a large house fire on Sunday morning in west Charlotte. 
The fire broke out at a home on Bullard St., where 30 Charlotte firefighters controlled the flames in 23 minutes. 
One patient was evaluated and released by EMS. 
There were no other reported injuries to civilians or firefighters. 
The fire is under investigation.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

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Over 140 rescued from life-threatening rip currents on the NC coast

Over 140 people have been rescued since Wednesday.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. — Beachgoers, beware!

Rip current risk is still high at some North Carolina beaches, as of the evening of June 22.

According to the National Weather Service, the risk of life-threatening rip currents is high from Emerald Isle to Cape Hatteras.

The rest of the NC coast is currently at a moderate risk. 

In high-risk zones, the surf zone is dangerous for all levels of swimmers. The National Weather Service warns swimmers to stay out of the water.

In moderate risk zones, life-threatening rip currents are possible. Swimmers are encouraged to swim near a lifeguard.

There have been more than 140 rip current rescues in the past week in North Carolina.

According to lifeguards at Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach over 40 people were rescued on Wednesday, almost 30 on Thursday, and almost 20 Friday. An additional 59 people were rescued on Saturday.

What is a rip current?

Rip currents, according to the National Weather Service, are ” powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore.”

They can extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone and past the line of breaking waves.

How to get out of a rip current:

According to the National Weather Service if you get caught in a rip current do the following:

Try to remain calm to conserve energy.Do not fight the current. Think of a rip current like a treadmill you can’t turn off. You want to step to the side of it.Swim across the current in a direction parallel to/following the shoreline.Once out of the current, swim back towards shore.Rip currents typically weaken beyond where the waves are breaking – when the current weakens, swim down the beach some before heading back to shore.If you can’t escape the current, try to float or calmly tread water.If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms and yell for help.

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Duke Energy shares ways to beat the heat and lower the bill

As potentially dangerous heat rocks the Charlotte area, a utility company says there are ways to keep cool while saving money.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the Charlotte area is blasted by high temperatures this weekend, a spokesperson for Duke Energy tells WCNC Charlotte there are quite a few ways to keep cool while keeping the power bill down. 

A few no-cost and low-cost energy efficiency tips

Set your thermostat to the highest comfortable setting or install a smart thermostat. Run ceiling fans in a counterclockwise direction in the summer, which pushes cooler air back down into the room.Close curtains and blinds to help prevent the sun from heating your home.Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a cooling system work harder, which uses more energy and can increase costs.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

Power Manager

Duke Energy says it offers several customer products, programs and services that can help customers reduce their energy use during the hotter months of summer.

One of these programs is Power Manager. It’s a program that offers bill credits for lowering electricity use during times of peak energy demand. You can take part by enrolling a smart thermostat, A/C heat strip or residential batteries in the program.

How it works: A few times during the summer, the company may activate Power Manager to help avoid turning on additional power plants or purchasing power from other suppliers. Enrolled devices are slightly adjusted to help conserve energy.

This helps save customers money and reduces environmental impact, Duke Energy said. 

The company says it only adjusts the temperature by a few degrees or less. Most of the program’s 222,000 customers report they don’t notice the shift, a spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte.

Track your usage

Customers can use the Duke Energy app to track energy usage down to the hour, day or week. The goal is to see when energy use is spiking and adjust habits that may be driving it up, the company said. 

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, just download the free app.

Other ways to save 

Another way to save is through the Flex Savings Option. Customers can pay lower rates by shifting their energy use to times of lower demand. Alternatively, rates will increase when customer demand is high and more people are using electricity. 

Income-qualified residential customers who use a lot of energy may be eligible for the High Energy Usage pilot program that offers free energy improvements that can help lower energy use. Upgrades can include air sealing, HVAC, refrigerator or water heater replacement and free lightbulbs.

There is also an income-qualified Weatherization Program for single-family and multifamily units to help save money and reduce expenses through the installation of energy conservation measures in their home. The program is open to owners and renters with owner approval.

You can visit the Special Assistance page for more information.

Home Energy House Call 

A free home assessment can help lower energy use. This service can help you learn how your home uses energy and how you can save. An energy specialist will check your home for air leaks, examine your insulation levels, check your appliances and more. 

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WCNC Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at WCNC Charlotte.  SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora || TuneIn || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.  […]

flashpoint

NC leaders ‘open’ to Charlotte’s latest transit plan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After years of back and forth, city leaders might have new reasons to be optimistic about their transit plan.  On WCNC’s Flashpoint, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore said he likes the progress he’s seen.

“I’m open to what’s there and want to work and collaborate with leaders of Mecklenburg County and the region, as well as the business community on this,” he said.

Recently, city leaders suggested a scaled back version of the plan, and suggested ditching a rail line to Matthews, and instead prioritized rail to Iredell County and more construction on roads.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, just download the free app.

“I liked the fact that it’s a regional approach, I think that’s important. But I do believe there needs to be a true emphasis on roads,” Moore said.

Previously, state leaders said they would only support a ‘roads-first’ plan. The republican-dominated General Assembly must approve any plan because it requires an increase in the local sales tax.  Voters would have the final say in a ballot referendum.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

 Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora  || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.  […]

home

Charlotte firefighters put out large home blaze

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Firefighters extinguished a large house fire on Sunday morning in west Charlotte. 
The fire broke out at a home on Bullard St., where 30 Charlotte firefighters controlled the flames in 23 minutes. 
One patient was evaluated and released by EMS. 
There were no other reported injuries to civilians or firefighters. 
The fire is under investigation.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

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When to expect the worst of the heat

With heat indices in the low-mid 100s Sunday, here is what you need to know to stay Weather Aware.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The WCNC Charlotte Weather Team wants you to be Weather Aware because of the dangerous heat in the Carolinas beginning this weekend.

Afternoon high temperatures will climb into the mid-and-upper 90s beginning Saturday. The hot weather will continue through at least Wednesday. But don’t focus on just the temperature, this weekend will feel a whole lot more humid, leading to some health concerns, especially for those with medical conditions.

When heat is at it’s worst

The hottest and most humid days of this heat wave are expected to be Sunday and Wednesday. These two days will likely see heat indices reach at least 104 degrees in Charlotte. It is possible some locations in the Carolinas could be a degree or two warmer. Even so, dangerous heat conditions will be in place Monday and Tuesday as well.

RAISE YOUR WEATHER IQ: Heat Index Explained

A heat index is what the temperature feels like to your body. It’s a calculation of the actual air temperature combined with the humidity. 

Stay #weatheraware for heat index values 100°+ Sunday through Wednesday ????????-Stay hydrated-Take breaks in the shade-Use sunscreen & sunglasses@wcnc pic.twitter.com/xVodGQO5y1— Brittany Van Voorhees (@WeatherBrittany) June 22, 2024

RELATED: Temperatures must be this hot for official weather alerts

A heat index just shy of 105 falls slightly short of the official heat advisory criteria from the National Weather Service.

RAISE YOUR WEATHER IQ: Are temperature readings really taken in the shade?

Impact of heat

When the weather is this hot out, the human body struggles to cool itself off. 

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body loses its ability to sweat. With heat stroke, the skin gets hot and red, and the pulse quickens as the person’s body temperature climbs to 103 degrees or higher. Headaches set in, along with nausea, confusion and even fainting. 

This occurs because the body tries to compensate for the heat by pumping blood to the skin. This is intended as a way to cool off. The more a person breathes, the more they lose fluids, becoming increasingly dehydrated. Important electrolytes like sodium and potassium also can be lost when sweating.

Experts say it’s important to recognize the signs of heat stroke in others, as people may not realize the danger they’re in because of an altered mental state that may involve confusion.

In the case of heat stroke, experts suggest calling 911 and trying to lower the person’s body temperature with cool, wet cloths or a cool bath.

????️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their Emmy Award-winning Weather IQ YouTube channel. ????

Knowing the heat risk

New this year, a joint effort between the National Weather Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping to communicate the impact of heat.

The five categories rest on strict science-set numerical thresholds, like the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale that is familiar for its Category 1 through 5 terminology, though the heat version is specific to location, said National Weather Service Director Ken Graham. The thresholds were calculated using local weather data, local climatology that shows what people are used to at certain locations at each time of year, and localized health and medical data for when heat illnesses and deaths show up in the area, he said.

Magenta is the worst and deadliest of five heat threat categories, hitting everybody with what the agencies are calling “rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief.” 

It’s a step higher than red, considered a major risk, which hurts anyone without adequate cooling and hydration and has impacts reverberating through the health care system and some industries. Red is used when a day falls within the top 5% hottest in a particular location for a particular date; when other factors come into play, the alert level may bump even higher to magenta, weather service officials said.

On the other hand, pale green is little to no risk. Yellow is minor risk, mostly to the very young, old, sick, and pregnant. Orange is moderate risk, mostly hurting people who are sensitive to heat, especially those without cooling, such as the homeless.

For the latest weather alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

Why the heat is so bad

A high-pressure system stationed over the East Coast is causing hot and dry weather conditions. When a persistent high-pressure system brings heat  to the same location for multiple days, this is sometimes referred to as being trapped in a “heat dome.” 

This weather pattern has allowed temperatures to climb across the United States while dramatically limiting the chances of running.

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What you can do to manage heat

To help your body stay cool, WCNC Charlotte meteorologist recommend:

Limiting time outsideStaying hydratedSeeking shadeListening to your bodyUsing sunscreen

Pools, beaches and air conditioners are some of the ways to stay cool. WCNC Charlotte has also compiled a list of splash pads,  community centers and free resources available to help beat the heat.

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On Saturday, WCNC Charlotte reporter Anna King headed uptown to see how neighbors were keeping cool.

“Cold fruit, cold water bottles and the pool,” said Au’Jhanique Law. “That’s it and shade.”

Law was enjoying a picnic at Romare Bearden Park, keeping in the shade with hat and sunglasses equipped.

“If we were in the sun, that would be different,” she said. “We would probably need a cooler for our water bottles, or a tumbler because it keeps the ice cold.”

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Mike Starkey was in line for the Charlotte Knights game and commented on the heat.

“You could fry an egg on the sidewalk out here,” he said, noting he was “drinking lots of liquids” to beat the heat.

Christina and her family were also in line, with hats and portable fans at the ready. Fortunately, they would stay cool with their seats.

“I’ll be in the shade,” she said.

 WCNC Charlotte’s Weather IQ YouTube channel gives detailed explainers from the WCNC Charlotte weather meteorologists to help you learn and understand weather, climate and science. Watch previous stories where you can raise your Weather IQ in the YouTube playlist below and subscribe to get updated when new videos are uploaded. 

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crime

Person shot in Uptown Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One person is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after a shooting in Uptown Charlotte, Sunday morning.
The shooting happened overnight on E. 5th Street, according to Medic. 
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has not released any information about this shooting as of Sunday morning. 
WCNC Charlotte’s crew on the scene is working to find out more. 
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

flashpoint

‘The biggest problem for North Carolinians of which they’re completely unaware.’ | State vacancies causing slowdowns

On Flashpoint, the director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina said the state’s $1 billion surplus should be used to attract and retain workers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 1,000 jobs remain open in North Carolina’s state government, according to a recent review of the state’s employment portal.

“I think the vacancies in state government are the biggest issue, the biggest problem for North Carolinians of which they’re completely unaware,” Ardis Watkins, Executive Director for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said on WCNC’s Flashpoint.

Watkins said the vacancies are making state government inefficient.

“Taxpayers are paying for 100% of the services. They’re getting about 75% of the services right now, due to the 25%, practically, vacancy rate in state government,” she said.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

The vacancies are causing slowdowns for a variety of state services; from genetic testing for newborns, to inspections for the state’s elevators and roller coasters.   Watkins said the vacancy rate at some state prisons is 60%.

The N.C. General Assembly is currently debating revisions to it’s two-year budget.   Lawmakers in both houses have looked at eliminating some of the red tape involved in the state’s hiring process, but so far, plans have not included pay raises beyond last year’s pay raise.

“We don’t pay enough. State government has never paid what the private market pays. But that that has caught up with us now,” she said.

Lawmakers say current budget estimates project a $1 billion revenue surplus for the state.   Watkins would like to see that money used for retaining and attracting state employees, and says it’s costing taxpayers extra money otherwise.

“The cost of turnover, the cost of people leaving these jobs is hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayer every year. So to not spend a little additional money to keep people in these jobs, you’re spending a lot more money to lose them. So when you talk about effective government that’s inefficient from a business standpoint. It’s not it doesn’t make common sense. It’s not the way that we would run our own businesses,” Watkins said.

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, X and Instagram. 

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, just download the free app.

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora  || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.  […]

Food

Nourish Up invites community to new Hunger Hub with cookout

The non-profit offered an inside look into the center that aims to keep neighbors in need healthy.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the many issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com. 

Nourish Up celebrated its new Hunger Hub with the community by inviting families to a cookout. The event on Saturday aimed to introduce the latest tool from the nonprofit to fight food insecurity. 

Tina Postel is the CEO of the non-profit.  She echoed the group’s motto with WCNC Charlotte. 

“Our goal at Nourish Up isn’t just to fill plates, but it’s to fill hearts,,” she said.

The mission is to fight hunger throughout the Carolinas. 

“We want to make sure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy meals and groceries,” Postel added. 

Marilyn Dunlap attended the cookout and was pleased to see how much was offered to families.

For the latest stories that focus on people seeking solutions to systemic issues, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications. 

“We appreciate what they do for the community,” she said.

Dunlap lives in Charlotte and shares the hurdles she facesto keep her shelves stocked with food. 

“We can’t afford to buy what we should be what we really need for nutrition,” she said.

Reducing hunger is an issue that North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams doesn’t take lightly. She was present for the cookout Saturday and said groups like Nourish Up are an important resource to ensure neighbors are able to thrive.

“Eating is a basic right, and you can’t be healthy if you’re hungry,” she said.

⏯ Subscribe to WCNC Charlotte on YouTube to be notified of new videos

Nourish Up aims to reach more families and keep food on the table every day.

“We want to welcome our neighbors and let them know that there’s no shame in needing a hand up,” said Postel.  “Our vision is for a community that accepts no excuses for our neighbors going hungry.” 

Nourish Up is part of a network of more than 30 food pantries in the Charlotte area. It’s also part of the Queen City’s Meals on Wheels program.

Contact Myles Harris at mharris5@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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home

Missing teen reported in Matthews

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Citizens are asked to be on the lookout for a missing teen in the Matthews area.

The Matthews Police Department said 16-year-old Jahamya Ivelisse Herndon went missing from her home on Reverdy Lane around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. just south of Pineville-Matthews Road. She may have been headed to the Arboretum Shopping Center.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

Herndon lives with autism and was last seen wearing an olive green T-shirt, olive green cargo pants, and brown or gold sandals. Her brown hair is in twists that go down to her shoulders. She stands at 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 260 pounds. She also has brown eyes.

Matthews Police noted photos they shared of her Saturday matched the clothing and appearance described in their alert.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, just download the free app.

Anyone who knows where Herndon lives should call (704) 847-5555 to speak with Ofc. Carroll, or 9-1-1 if emergency help is needed.

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora  || Google Podcasts || iHeart

Locked On is the leading podcast network for local sports and is owned by WCNC Charlotte’s parent company TEGNA. Listen to Locked On here. 

WCNC Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at WCNC Charlotte.  SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora || TuneIn || Google Podcasts || iHeart

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

crime

‘Armed and dangerous’ man arrested in connection to robbery, Chester County Sheriff says

The 74-year-old was considered to be armed and dangerous.

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — The Chester County Sheriff’s Department said it arrested a man wanted in connection to an armed robbery that happened on Thursday. 

Officials identified the suspect as 74-year-old Roger Dale Pressley. They say he is considered to be armed and dangerous. 

The robbery happened in a parking lot near the intersection of Wilson Street and JA Cochran Bypass in Chester County. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

 You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, just download the free app.

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WCNC Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at WCNC Charlotte.  SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora || TuneIn || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. 

Locked On is the leading podcast network for local sports and is owned by WCNC Charlotte’s parent company TEGNA. Listen to Locked On here.  

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. 

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora  || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.  […]

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Body of man found in NC lake

An investigation is underway after officials said park visitors found the body of Presley Junior Jaynes.

MORGANTON, N.C. — An investigation is underway after visitors found the body of a man floating in Lake James, according to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. 

The man was identified as 76-year-old Presley Junior Jaynes of Morganton. He was not reported to be alive when authorities found him in the lake.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office went to Lake James State Park around 8 p.m. on Friday after visitors saw Jaynes floating in the water. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts from WCNC Charlotte, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

A death investigation was launched and the investigation is ongoing. 

Multiple response teams came to help Lake James State Park Rangers, who were already on the scene. 

WCNC Charlotte wants to hear about your loved one

If your loved one was impacted by this incident, WCNC Charlotte hopes to make this process less painful with our More Than A Number initiative. With your help, we want to share who your loved one was with our viewers in North Carolina and South Carolina. When you’re ready, fill out the form below or send us photos, memories and other details about them to desk@wcnc.com.  

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WCNC Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at WCNC Charlotte.  SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Pandora || TuneIn || Google Podcasts || iHeart 

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features

Dragon helps put out fire: Charlotte Knights mascot seen helping put out uptown Charlotte fire

This time, the dragon helped extinguish a fire.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Knights mascot Homer the Dragon flipped the script Tuesday: he helped put out a fire. 

When a small brush fire broke out in a flower bed near Truist Field and Romare Bearden Park, the Charlotte Fire Department said, “Homer was in the neighborhood and assisted Charlotte Fire Engine 4 with putting the fire out.”

Walter Hawkins, who shared photos of the event with WCNC Charlotte, said he was at Romare Bearden park Tuesday around noon when he noticed the fire. Hawkins said while waiting for a fire engine to arrive, multiple people stopped to help — among them, Charlotte’s favorite dragon. 

Homer the Dragon told WCNC Charlotte he was shooting a video in the team store when the team store manager noticed a fire across the street. Homer ran over, and when he noticed an extinguisher in use had emptied, he said he knew it was time to step up.

At that point, Homer said they pulled the pin on their extinguisher, working to get the fire out. When Engine 4 pulled up, Homer said the firefighters had big smiles and let Homer use the fire hose to cover the fire in water. 

“I’m so thankful for the brave citizen that started putting the fire out, those that called 911, and the Engine 4 crew!” Homer said in a statement. “It was an honor to protect and serve the neighborhood and city that I love.” 

RELATED: Charlotte Knights announce season delayed until May 4

RELATED: Long lines at Spectrum Center COVID-19 vaccine clinic […]

gastonia

Gaston County leaders confront homelessness crisis

Gaston County Commissioners voted Tuesday to create an intergovernmental agency task force on homelessness.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County commissioners met Tuesday and voted unanimously to create a homelessness task force. The task force will review how many people are homeless, what barriers people face seeking help, and review potential solutions.

John Mills, the director of social services for The Salvation Army in Gastonia, is optimistic about the possible changes resulting from a task force.

“Just more collaboration and communication as far as our services because really no one agency can do it all,” Mills said. “I think it’d be much more stronger focus as far as our clientele and just trying to help them more.”

Dwayne Burks is the director and chaplain of The Gateway, which connects people with chronic crises to relief programs to lift themselves out of homelessness.

He said there are two challenges with Gaston County’s homelessness issue: affordable housing, and government services and non-profits in the county that are siloed in their efforts yet have overlapping responsibilities.

Gaston County commissioners will be meeting tonight to discuss forming a homelessness taskforce. Today at 5:30 p.m. @wcnc, the unique challenges to solving Gaston County’s homelessness, and how the promise of big projects could exacerbate the issue. pic.twitter.com/8MzhpLSNze
— Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) March 9, 2021

Burks said in The Gateway’s last count, they had 5,600 people receiving Supplemental Security Income from the federal government, which is under $900 a month.

But he said, at any given time, the county only has about 2,200 rental units total, with a median price of $800 a month.

“It’s wonderful to see the growth that we’re seeing in our community,” Burks said. “But we’re also gentrifying because we’re not planning ahead for that.”

He said Gaston County has a unique challenge because outside of Gastonia, there are few options for people seeking help.

“We need a pathway for those folks that’s clearly delineated, ‘This is how you get yourself out of homelessness,'” Burks said.

The number of people in Gaston County on the verge of homelessness is also on the rise.

Crisis Assistance Ministry in Gastonia helps people facing an emergency crisis situation by providing food, financial assistance, or limited medications.

Kim Wheeler, the nonprofit’s director, said the pandemic’s placed more people on the brink of homelessness.

“Most of the people we’re seeing are new applicants who have never been in this position,” Wheeler said.

From March 2020 to February 2021, the non-profit distributed $365,000 in emergency rent and utility payments, which was more than double the amount during the same period in 2019 to 2020.

Here’s a breakdown of who will be on the task force: 

A member of the board of commissioners who will chair that task force
A representative of the elected board or council of each of the cities or towns
A local faith community representative that geographically represents the county
A county health department representative appointed by the county manager as well as a social service representative
A Gaston County police department representative 
A United Way county representative 
Aston County Salvation Army representative 
Gaston/Lincoln/Cleveland Continuum of Care planning committee 
A Catherine’s House Sisters of Mercy representative

Commissioner Tracy Philbeck was approved as the chairman of the task force. […]

home

Several coyote attacks recently reported in the Carolinas

The attacks happened in Greensboro but several Charlotte-area neighborhoods report recently spotting coyotes too.

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — The start of spring signals the middle of the mating season for coyotes. They’ve recently been spotted all across the Carolinas from Greensboro and Charlotte to Fort Mill.

Guilford County Animal Control reports six coyote attacks in just two days at Lake Brandt Park in Greensboro. Four people were bitten.

Biker Derik Broach says he was riding the trails when he noticed a coyote start to charge at him.

“He started running towards me and that was terrifying,” Broach said.

He used his bike as a shield and fortunately was not hurt in the attack, but he said he certainly felt the coyote’s threat and strength.

“He had very strong teeth and jaws because he just popped my tire like nothing.”

Neighbors in Charlotte and Fort Mill have recently taken to the NextDoor app to share their warnings about coyote sightings in the area too. In one case, Rachael Hudson says she came in contact with two coyotes while taking her dog out at night.

“First they looked like dogs because it was kind of hard to see, but she was very guarded — she was barking and growling,” Hudson said.

Thankfully she and her dog were not hurt. But wildlife experts say now during the breeding season you should not be surprised to see a coyote at any time — day or night. 

It’s important you keep an eye specifically on your small pets. If you’re approached by a coyote, yell, wave your arms, or throw something.

For more tips on how to protect yourself in a coyote attack, click here.

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hornets

Hornets fan shares special moments with the team

A limited number of fans will be allowed to return to Spectrum Center for the second half of the season

The Charlotte Hornets are set to return to Spectrum Center later this week to begin the second half of the season and when they do, they’ll be able to host a limited number of fans.

However, prior to this announcement, 13-year-old Preston Pruitt missed interacting with the team so much that he and his other Janelle made their way to Spectrum Center so that Preston could possibly get an autograph or at least a wave from some of his favorite players as they were leaving the arena postgame.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the autographs didn’t happen, but he did have some special moments that evening.

“I just really miss being able to have the experience to be able to see the players up close like I was able to do at games and stuff. It was cool to see all of the players being able to wave at me, even though they weren’t able to sign autographs just that interaction with people I feel like is pretty cool,” Preston Pruitt explained.

Preston has been a lifelong Charlotte Hornets Fan, from attending games to the team’s summer ball camps and his first NBA autograph was from the one and only Kemba Walker.

“I’m kind of a Kemba fan. I love Kemba,” Preston said as he showed a large stack of Kemba Walker cards he’s collected.

Since then collecting autographs has become a passion of his and it’s led to some pretty cool experiences with players and coaches, including Hornets guard Devonte Graham who gave him a pair of shoes at a game.

“I was almost in tears. I looked up to my mom like ‘Mama, I got the shoes!'”

Preston’s support for the Hornets has already gotten the attention of rookie LaMelo Ball and his team, who sent him a hoodie after they heard about Preston’s efforts to still show his support even though he couldn’t attend a game.

“I was ecstatic. I was so excited,” Pruitt said. “Watching him at Chino Hills and whatnot and being able to see him and seeing him getting drafted I was very excited. When I got the hoodie I was like wow this is so crazy.”

Preston, like many other fans, can’t wait to be back at Spectrum cheering the Hornets on to hopefully many more victories and possibly even the playoffs this season. For those looking to get an autograph from their favorite player, Pruitt says the biggest key to having success is simple, just be kind to the players. […]