September 26, 2021
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Elderly man missing in Morganton

MORGANTON, N.C. — A Silver Alert is active for an elderly man who is missing from Morganton late Saturday night.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office activated the alert for 78-year-old Kenneth Norman Clark around 10:30 p.m. He’s believed to be living with a cognitive impairment of some kind, and was last seen on Plantation Drive.
He stands at 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds. He has grey medium-length hair and hazel eyes. He was last wearing a black jacket, a purple and blue shirt, and khaki pants.
Kenneth could be driving a light blue 2013 Toyota Highlander with North Carolina license plate ALF-4652.
Anyone who knows where he is should call the sheriff’s office and speak with Det. Browning at 828-437-191. […]

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Sports card trading store opens in South End

As several businesses closed during the pandemic and many continue to try to stay afloat, others hope to find success while opening up shop.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Several businesses have closed their doors for good throughout the pandemic, but n unique sports shop opened in Charlotte’s South End in the hopes of luring in fans old and new alike. 

“It’s kind of a nostalgia thing that’s come back, especially during COVID,” said Mike Martin. 

Martin, along with Jordan Edwards, opened One Stop Sports on Saturday. 

MORE: A Gastonia grocery store is closing soon. Citizens worry this could create a food desert.

It was the vision of Brent Schepel, a Charlotte graduate and social media influencer who collects cards. 

“Back in the day, cards were a big deal, especially for me growing up,” said Edwards. 

They’re modernizing the sports card trading business with a shop, where sports fans can buy or trade rare cards, enjoy watching games, and even grab a drink while hanging around. 

“Now that we can get back in person together, people are craving to meet people, shake their hand, do a trade with a card,” Martin said. “Like I keep saying, it’s about bringing the community together.”

MORE NEWS: More than 52,000 fentanyl pills seized after house shot at in Mint Hill, police say

Earlier this year, a Federal Reserve study found an estimated 800,000 businesses closed in the U.S. during the past year, about 200,000 more than usual. 

The owners of One Stop Sports said it was easy to open a sports business during the pandemic.

“This was something that was created during COVID. A lot of industries have increased sales because of COVID,” Edwards said. 

They hope to continue to be one of those industries, bringing in collectors and fans to an old pastime made new again in the Queen City.

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to sign up for the daily Wake Up Charlotte newsletter  

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Elderly man missing in Morganton

MORGANTON, N.C. — A Silver Alert is active for an elderly man who is missing from Morganton late Saturday night.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office activated the alert for 78-year-old Kenneth Norman Clark around 10:30 p.m. He’s believed to be living with a cognitive impairment of some kind, and was last seen on Plantation Drive.
He stands at 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds. He has grey medium-length hair and hazel eyes. He was last wearing a black jacket, a purple and blue shirt, and khaki pants.
Kenneth could be driving a light blue 2013 Toyota Highlander with North Carolina license plate ALF-4652.
Anyone who knows where he is should call the sheriff’s office and speak with Det. Browning at 828-437-191. […]

community

A Gastonia grocery store is closing soon. Citizens worry this could create a food desert.

Many walk to the Save-A-Lot in Gastonia. Once it closes, the nearest grocery store is a 30-minute walk from those neighborhoods.

GASTONIA, N.C. — A Gastonia grocery store set to close soon will leave many without a way to shop for fresh foods nearby. Save-A-Lot on West Franklin Boulevard serves mainly low-income neighborhoods, where some residents don’t have transportation.

But now, it’s shutting its doors for good on Oct. 2. Now, many are worried this will create a food desert for part of town.

“Those neighbors around the Save-A-Lot are some of our homeless families, some of our families that are doubled up, some of our families that probably don’t have their own transportation,” said Gale Manning, a food pantry coordinator with the Bountiful Blessings Food Ministry.

Neighbors who live in the west Gastonia neighborhoods said the store’s closure will affect many.

‘You can’t do it much longer’ | Doctors, nurses burnt out and ready to quit

“It’s hurting a lot of people,” said Helen Tindall. “Some of them can’t get over it. It means so much to them.”

Tindall has been shopping at the store since it opened about a decade ago. Her grandson, who passed away four years ago in a car crash, used to be the manager at the store.

“I have asked for the Save-A-Lot clock just in remembrance of him,” said Tindall, who enjoys shopping there to honor her grandson. 

The nearest grocery store to the Save-A-Lot is a Food Lion, according to navigation apps like Apple Maps. It’s less than two miles away, but it’s a 30-minute walk. Manning worries that will be difficult for people carrying groceries, but she says the food pantry is ready to help families in need. 

MORE NEWS: Firefighters douse house fire in Huntersville early Saturday

“The good thing about it is that we’re on the bus line and they can walk also,” said Manning. “But we will be here to meet them with open arms. We will feed them.” 

Bountiful Blessings is already feeding more than 2,000 families every week. The pantry, operated by the Mt. Zion Restoration Church, relies on volunteers and is also in need of donations. 

To donate, you can visit the church’s website here and here. Make sure when you make the donation to note it’s for the pantry.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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

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coronavirus

Charlotte area vaccine providers preparing to administer Pfizer COVID-19 boosters next week

The Mecklenburg County Health Department, StarMed and Novant Health will start on Monday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Now that certain populations are eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, North Carolina vaccine providers are preparing to give people a boost in protection.

Mecklenburg County health officials said they are preparing to administer booster shots for recipients of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as early as Monday, Sept. 27 at all public health sites. StarMed Healthcare will do the same.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said once providers have access to booster shots, they can begin administering them immediately.

Those eligible can find booster shots at their health care provider, pharmacies and other locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available.

Novant Health will also start giving boosters at select locations on Monday. It is by appointment only. 

Atrium Health still has not released plans.

Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy locations started giving the shots after the CDC Director’s approval.

The Charlotte Community Health Clinic partnered with CMS on Saturday to host a vaccine clinic at Ransom Middle School. Health experts say overall they’ve seen a recent increase in vaccines along with more and more people interested in the booster shots too.

“I think that the delta variant has families in the Charlotte community worried,” Charlotte Community Health Clinic Chief Medical Officer  Anne Steptoe said. “Booster shots are given because we want to make sure that as there are different variants that come out individuals have strong immune protection heading into the winter.”

The announcement came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recommended boosters to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health conditions. The extra doses will be given once those patients are at least six months past their second Pfizer shot. 

Walensky also recommended boosters for people who are age 18 to 64 and are health care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. That recommendation went against a CDC advisory committee’s counsel, but Walensky said in a statement that “it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact.”

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“While we are awaiting additional clinical guidance from the CDC and specific guidance from NC DHHS, Mecklenburg County Public Health will be prepared to provide third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible individuals on Monday, September 27 at all public health vaccine sites,” Health Director Gibbie Harris said in a statement. 

NCDHHS said that providers can give boosters immediately if they’re ready.

BOOSTERS: @MeckCounty is waiting for more guidance from @ncdhhs but is prepared to start giving booster shots to eligible people who got the Pfizer vaccine on MONDAY @wcnc pic.twitter.com/9CzADL65P0— Chloe Leshner (@ChloeLeshner) September 24, 2021

“My assumption is there will be a very large demand for those individuals who qualify for that third shot,” Chris Dobbins with StarMed Healthcare said.

As vaccine providers prepare to give third doses, there are still millions of North Carolinians who have not gotten the first shot.

“Education and motivation continue to be at the forefront of our work and we anticipate that we still have a lot of work in front of us so we’ll continue to hopefully help those individuals move forward be it their first, second or booster,” Dobbins said.

Some have been slow to get a second dose too. At least 195,000 people in the state have gotten a Pfizer or Moderna first dose, but haven’t gone back to complete the series.

“If we don’t see someone come back in a lot of time yes we are ding outreach to remind them to come back and get that second vaccine. you’re not fully vaccinated if you get the Pfizer and Moderna until you get the second vaccine,” Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said.

This is only for people who have gotten the Pfizer vaccine but guidance for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters is likely coming soon.

Chloe Leshner will have a full report on Pfizer COVID-19 boosters in North Carolina Friday. That report will air during WCNC Charlotte News at 6. 

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

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

Man shot along Ashley Road in Charlotte, police say

Medic initially shared just after 4 p.m. they were called to reports of a gunshot wound along Ashley Road, near Tuckaseegee Road. However, they later said their call there had been canceled. WCNC Charlotte then reached out to CMPD for more details.
Police confirmed a man does appear to have been shot in the area, facing a non-life-threatening injury. No further details were immediately available. […]

community

Second Harvest food bank to donate over 95,000 lbs. of food to local agencies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina has promised to donate over 95,000 pounds of food throughout The Springs Close Foundation’s service area this fall. 
The food bank announced it will make the donation to honor the late philanthropist Anne Springs Close.
The distributions will take place from late Sept. to early Nov.
The planned distributions will benefit the following agencies/partners of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina:
Watch Wake Up Charlotte each weekday morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. on WCNC Charlotte, and as always, join the conversation on social media using #WakeUpCLT! […]

community

Man dies in skydiving accident, Chester County deputies confirm

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — An elderly man died in a skydiving accident Saturday afternoon in Chester County, the Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
Deputies responded to reports on an incident around 12:37 p.m. Saturday in Chester County.
Officials say the man was an experienced jumper and that he landed at James F. Wherry Road and Darby Road. 
The man’s name has not been released.
No other information has been provided. Check back here as this story develops. […]

community

Charlotte firefighters responding to apartment fire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Fire Department said it’s responding to an apartment fire in south Charlotte Saturday afternoon.
The department said it responded to a fire that engulfed the first floor of an apartment building along Heathstead Place in south Charlotte around 12:32 p.m. 
Structure Fire; 3020 Heathstead Pl, apartment with fire showing from the 1st floor, Station 16’s area— Charlotte Fire Dept (@CharlotteFD) September 25, 2021

No information was provided. WCNC Charlotte reached to MEDIC about the incident but has not heard back yet.
Check back here as this story develops. […]

crime

Man who reportedly fired at police, lead chase arrested, Cleveland County deputies say

A Facebook post by the office identified 22-year-old Austin Nathaniel Hannon as the suspect. Deputies were searching for in the Mary’s Grove Area, along Mary’s Grove Church Road. Further details about Hannon were not immediately available, but a previous mugshot was provided.
Stay tuned for updates on this story as we get them.
Note: WCNC instituted a new policy in March 2021 regarding the broadcast or posting of mugshots.  
WCNC will only air or post a mugshot if the person has been formally charged with a crime and in a few other cases. The exceptions include: If it appears the person could be a danger to themselves or others or if they are wanted by authorities; to differentiate between people with a common name; if the photos could encourage more victims to come forward. The news-editorial leadership may also decide to use a mugshot based on the severity of the crime(s) committed and/or the level of public interest in the crime and ensuing criminal proceedings.
Because the suspect is deemed armed and dangerous, his mugshot is being shown. […]

Entertainment

The 60th annual Rowan County Fair kicks off Friday in Salisbury

The Rowan County Fair starts Friday evening. The weather looks nice, but a light jacket is a necessity for the late night.

SALISBURY, N.C. — The 60th annual Rowan County Fair starts Friday at the Rowan County Fairgrounds located on Julian Road in Salisbury. The fair will run from Friday, Sept. 24 through Saturday, Oct. 2.

Hours will be 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The weather over the next week looks amazing for anytime outside.

Friday, Sept. 24

Dry air, sunshine, clear skies and cool temperatures can be expected Friday night. Temperatures will start in the mid-70s and quickly dip to near 60 degrees. No rain is expected, and the wind will be light.

Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26

Saturday will feature a few more clouds, but humidity will remain low. Highs will reach the upper 70s. 

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

Sunday will mix in even more sunshine with highs nearing 80 degrees. Even as temperatures get warmer, it’ll still feel fall-like when you step outside.

Monday, Sept. 27 and beyond

A warming trend begins Sunday and continues for much of the workweek with highs returning to the mid-80s. A reinforcing shot of cool air along a dry cold front will dip our temperatures again Friday and Saturday.

🌩️ If you like weather, join Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte First Warn Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥

The front will be dry, but the Carolinas could experience a 20% chance of rain. This will be the only opportunity for showers during the entirety of the Rowan County Fair.

Contact Brittany Van Voorhees at bvanvoorhe@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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flashpoint

US Senate hopeful Mark Walker warns against politicization of pandemic

On Flashpoint, the former pastor tackles a variety of issues from the campaign trail.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mark Walker, a candidate for U.S. Senate from North Carolina, is looking to distinguish himself from democrats, fellow republicans, and anyone associated with Washington, D.C.  

“You can go to D.C., not compromise, hold your values, and still speak to all communities,” Walker said.

Walker points to his time serving in the U.S. House.

RELATED: With Charlotte booming, should city council add a seat?

“It comes down to a pretty simple measure. It’s our record of being in the US Congress for six years, of being able to go into the swamp, maintain our conservative credentials, but do some things that had not been done before,” he explained.

In a wide-ranging interview on WCNC’s Flashpoint, Walker aims at fellow Republicans running in the Senate primary, President Biden, and Governor Cooper. He said the pandemic and the vaccination process have become too politicized. 

“We’ve got to be careful about being influenced by people who are in this for political gain,” he said.

This week, Governor Cooper encourage faith leaders to help get more people vaccinated and dispel rumors about the pandemic.

“I’ll talk to a healthcare provider, I’ll talk to my pastor, but I’ll take a pass on the governor,” Walker said.

Walker previously served 16 years as a pastor.

SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW ON FLASHPOINT ON WCNC CHARLOTTE, THIS SUNDAY AT 11 A.M.

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 || Stitcher || Google Podcasts 

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.

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

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community

With Charlotte booming, should city council add a seat?

On Flashpoint, a former city councilwoman makes the case for expanding Charlotte’s City Council.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Charlotte City Council considers new district boundaries lines, a familiar voice in city politics says leaders should add a council seat.

“The city has grown enough to where it could accommodate 8 districts at this point,” former city councilmember Lawana Mayfield said.

Currently, Council has seven districts plus four at-large seats.

Click here to sign up for the daily Wake Up Charlotte newsletter    

“An eighth district could possibly help create more input from the community at large.” 

Mayfield, a Democrat, said Council should be politically representative of the city’s voters. She is currently running for an at-large council seat.  

“We have a growing number of unaffiliated voters in our community that doesn’t necessarily feel like they’re being represented,” Mayfield explained.

Mayfield isn’t alone in her push. Current at-large council member Braxton Winston has been vocal in supporting an eighth district seat.  

“Why not add an 8th district while keeping four at-large, therefore providing maximum representation allowed by law,” Winston asked in a tweet on Sept. 9.

Such a change looks unlikely. This week, a council committee released three redistricting proposals, all including the current seven seats.

SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW ON FLASHPOINT ON WCNC CHARLOTTE, THIS SUNDAY AT 11 A.M.

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 || Stitcher || Google Podcasts 

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.

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

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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.

RELATED: A bird rescue wants you to take down bird baths and feeders to keep birds from getting salmonella

RELATED: Prepare to Spring Forward: Daylight saving time starts Sunday

RELATED: Cat that vanished 15 years ago reunited with owner […]

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. […]