February 2, 2023
LATEST NEWS
connect-the-dots

Several groups working to regain felon voting rights in NC

Back in 1973, lawmakers passed a bill restricting felons’ voting rights and it’s now facing backlash.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Around 56,000 North Carolinians are waiting to regain their right to vote.

Let’s connect the dots

Back in 1973, lawmakers passed a bill restricting felons’ voting rights and it’s now facing backlash.

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Several groups, including North Carolina’s NAACP chapter, are suing state house speaker Tim Moore. Plaintiffs in the case argue it’s meant to disenfranchise Black voters who are more likely to face a felony conviction.

Republicans, on the other hand, continue to defend the law. It’s been a long road to get here as just last year a trial court ruled felons who are not in prison could register to vote.

But the appeals process has taken the case to the highest court in North Carolina. Now, with a Republican majority on the Supreme Court, striking down the controversial law could be unlikely.

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

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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.  […]

local

'The bottom line is that Vision Zero works' | One city's success with traffic-safety program brings hope to Charlotte

Since 2018, those working on the Vision Zero program have put in pedestrian infrastructure across Charlotte to make roads safer, but there’s still more work to do.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It happens far too often in Charlotte: a pedestrian or cyclist hit and killed on the road. Advocates for more safety changes say the problem can be systemic.

“Undoing a lot of infrastructure that caters to automobiles is really hard,” Angela Berry, Charlotte Traffic Safety and Vision Zero Manager, said. Vision Zero is a globe-spanning plan aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries related to the road, while increasing safe, equitable mobility.

Since 2018, those working on the Vision Zero program in Charlotte have put in pedestrian infrastructure across the city to make roads safer, but they say there is still more work to do.

City data shows a decline in traffic-related deaths from 2020 to last year, with 73 reported in 2020, 66 in 2021, and 61 in 2022. While the trends are headed in the right direction, they are still far from the goal of zero. 

“I think it’s very a worthwhile goal because I don’t think you can say anything other than zero is an acceptable number,” Berry said.

This is hope on the horizon though with Vision Zero’s success in other parts of the country. Jersey City, New Jersey, implemented the program and reached its goal of zero traffic deaths in 2022. 

We commend @SecretaryPete @USDOT for recognizing the roadway safety crisis is fixable. We have tools & strategies to prioritize #SafetyOverSpeed & more $$ thx to #SS4A grants for 500+ communities. Now we need political will. Mayors, we’re counting on you: https://t.co/hOj2JRfYyk pic.twitter.com/wnx98kaxf2— Vision Zero Network (@Visionzeronet) February 2, 2023

“The bottom line is that Vision Zero works, and, as long as you have leadership committed and engagement in the community, most of these traffic crashes can be solved,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. 

In the Jersey City program, called SafeStreetsJC, Fulop said they focused on problem intersections and invested in other forms of transit. Jersey City has also taken an experimental mindset, piloting traffic safety ideas, before making more concrete changes.

“You figure out solutions, and they don’t always work,” Fulop said. “So, you have to be willing to be nimble, try things, recognize when it doesn’t work.” 

“I think some changes take a little bit of time to kind of work out. So, sometimes that education is really needed,” James Lee, SafeStreetsJC president, said. 

When comparing the two cities’ programs, of importance to note is the population difference between Jersey City and the Queen City. Jersey City has about 250,000 people living there, while Charlotte has almost 875,000 people. 

Still, the findings are promising for those in Charlotte working towards change.

“It makes me hopeful for us,” Berry said. 

Charlotte recently received $4.4 million dollars in federal grant money to address intersection and pedestrian safety. […]

Education

A CMS art teacher celebrates women in billboards showcased around Charlotte

Tina Vincent uses paper mache to create dynamic sculptures. She said she found her love for art in a classroom not much different than her own.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — ArtPop Street Gallery, a Charlotte nonprofit, is connecting art to the community one advertisement at a time.

The group takes different local artists’ work and displays it for free at places like the Charlotte Airport, public transportation stops and even newspaper stands. 

“We are open to the 13 county region so that way, artists from more rural areas also had the same opportunities as we do here in Mecklenburg County,” Brooke Gibbons, ArtPop Street Gallery Director of Impact and Sustainability said. 

MORE NEWS: Gastonia’s ornament king celebrates 100th birthday

One of the winners of the nonprofit’s ‘Cities Program’ is East Mecklenburg High School art teacher Tina Vincent.

“My favorite thing is to create things,” Vincent said. “Like using a material that’s underestimated to make something beautiful, because I feel like I was always kind of a little bit underestimated.”

Vincent uses paper mache to create dynamic sculptures. The artist said she found her love for art in a classroom not much different than her own. 

“At the school that I went to we had to choose between music, technology and art,” Vincent said. “And I just figured I could sit and talk to my friends and draw pictures. Like that was actually the rationale.” 

Now she finds her art being featured across the Charlotte area on billboards. 

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“It’s a celebration of skin tones. It’s a celebration of different body types and curves,” Vincent said. 

It’s also a celebration of her and women like her. 

“With women having children and all the things we have to do, and just celebrating that and not saying oh, well, you have to have this certain body type or this certain skin tone in order to be beautiful,” Vincent said. 

ArtPop has about $7 million of public media space dedicated to showcasing local art like Vincent’s. 

“That equates to about 1 billion media impressions in one year,” Gibbons said. 

The media space is donated through a number of local businesses and other donors. 

MORE NEWS: ‘She’s really loving’ | The mooooving story of Phoebe the calf and her student caregivers

“You may see them on billboards on the freeway, on the light rail at airports, that’s digital billboards and signs at retail developments and movie theater lobbies around the country,” Gibbons said. 

 The showcases also mean exposure for new and experienced artists. 

“We always say exposure does not pay the bills, but getting your name and your artwork out there certainly does make a difference and it creates so many opportunities for our artists,” Gibbons said. 

Vincent’s art, in sculpture form sits, is in her classroom as a visual reminder for her students that they can do anything. 

“Don’t worry about people don’t worry about what they think or what they’re saying about it,” Vincent said. “If you really believe and you really feel like you have a passion for something, just keep working at it,” Vincent said.

Vincent’s paper mache sculptures, presented on billboards can be seen across Charlotte and surrounding counties. They’re also on newsstands in Uptown, Charlotte Douglas International Airport and digital displays in South Park and Ballantyne.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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crime

Bond reductions in Mecklenburg County a concern among law enforcement and the community

An alleged repeat violent offender was released from jail after his bond was reduced.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police posted their frustration on social media after a suspected repeated offender was released a day after a SWAT situation in Charlotte.

Police Activity in the Metro Division https://t.co/O7tZJRTl6k— CMPD News (@CMPD) February 1, 2023

According to records, Demont Forte has over 100 criminal filings. WCNC Charlotte has covered Forte in the past, including a road rage incident where he’s seen allegedly hitting a woman in 2021, as well as a charge for murder in 1992.

Forte’s most recent list of charges stem from his arrest on Monday, including assault by strangulation, felony stalking, assault on a female, and assault on a government employee.

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

Lisa Diefenderfer from Safe Alliance, a resource for victims of domestic violence, says that domestic violence offenders being released on lower bonds is a problem they see often in Mecklenburg County.

“Domestic violence crimes notoriously have very low bonds set. I think it mainly pertains to the fact that most domestic violence crimes or misdemeanors on average, obviously misdemeanors have lower bonds,” said Diefenderfer.

Allowing violent criminals to be released on no bond, or on low bond, is something that CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings says is frustrating for law enforcement, especially in Mecklenburg County.

“We are not keeping our community safe by letting repeat violent offenders back out on the streets. We’re doing a disservice to our citizens by doing that,” said Chief Jennings.

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The president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, Daniel Redford, noted that different counties have different rules regarding bond policy, which can be frustrating.

Redford asked, “How is it that you can go to Gaston County, Union County, or other counties surrounding Mecklenburg County, commit the same exact crime, but you can get a significantly higher bond or no bond at all?”

An active officer himself, Redford says that, although it’s frustrating, local law enforcement will continue to do the best they can to keep violent criminals off the street.

“We’ll just continue to fight this revolving door of justice that we have and keep spending time putting the same people back in jail,” Redford said. “If there’s not any type of intervention done, whether it’s jail, prison, or something, female victims of domestic violence are murdered, right? So if we cannot rely on our court systems to help victims remain safe, then, who else is there, out there, that can assure the victims of these violent and repeated crimes can sleep safely at night.”

Diefenderfer added, “It’s really important that the key players have access to the information. So when a determination is made on bond, making sure that the court has access to the information for them to make a good decision on bond would be really vital.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can reach out to Safe Alliance.

Jane Monreal: Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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crime

Charlotte police release body cam footage from in-custody death

State investigators and CMPD’s own internal review found that officers responded appropriately when responding.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has shared footage from an officer’s body-worn camera and provided a timeline of a shooting suspect’s death while in custody.

In June 2022, officers responded to the reported shooting along Featherstone Drive in north Charlotte. Police said they found 32-year-old Jovontay Avery Williams and identified him as the suspect, but noted he was “behaving in an erratic manner”. CMPD said Williams was yelling and appeared to be suffering a medical emergency.

The department said Williams was taken to a hospital for treatment. However, he passed away hours later. Because he was still in CMPD custody, his death was investigated by both CMPD’s internal affairs division and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI).

On Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, the department released the body camera footage under court order, while also providing a timeline of events. 

The video can be viewed on CMPD’s YouTube channel. Viewers are advised that while it is not graphic, it may be upsetting for some. Some vulgar language is used at one point as well.

The 45-minute video shows officers responding to the house where Williams was spotted at. Officers give him a set of commands, including telling Williams to raise his hands in the air. However, the officer quickly runs up to Williams as he remains facing away from them on the home’s porch, not responding to them.

The officer clears Williams’ hands as he is brought to the floor. As Williams is handcuffed, he doesn’t appear responsive as another officer asks if he’s hurt. Williams appears to be distressed but isn’t coherent for much of the video.

Officers were able to learn his identity in the video, with one saying “Jovontay, man, we got the ambulance on the way for you”. 

At one point, Williams is able to clearly ask to be let up, and later said he was “seeing double” and “feeling lightheaded”. He also said he was “about to die” while using vulgar language.

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

Paramedics arrive on the scene about 22 minutes into the video. CMPD had called for an ambulance about 11 minutes into the encounter as shown in the footage.

CMPD noted that its own internal review and the NCSBI review found no wrongdoing from the responding officers. The department noted the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office decided criminal charges were not appropriate.

As of publication, the department said a full medical examiner’s report and toxicology results were still pending.

“I want to assure our citizens that after thoroughly reviewing the evidence in this case, I am confident that our officers performed their duties appropriately regarding the treatment of Mr. Williams which included seeking a higher level of medical care for him immediately when they realized he was experiencing a medical emergency,” said CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings in a statement.

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heartwarming

Gastonia's ornament king celebrates 100th birthday

Marshall Rauch is long retired and thankful to be looking back at such a ‘productive’ and ‘giving’ life.

GASTONIA, N.C. — It’s a special day for a man known as Gastonia’s ornament king. Marshall Rauch is celebrating his 100th birthday today.

At one point in his life, he was the largest Christmas ornament maker in the world.

Rauch is long retired and thankful to be looking back at such a ‘productive’ and ‘giving’ life.

“I lived in New York, came to college at Duke [University], married a girl from Bessemer City and stayed in North Carolina,” Raunch told WCNC Charlotte’s Fred Shropshire.

READ MORE: ‘She’s really loving’ | The mooooving story of Phoebe the calf and her student caregivers

Blessings and irony in between have added color to his journey, like his time under legendary Duke basketball coach Eddie Cameron.”I played on the freshman team at duke that first year 40, 41,” Raunch recalled.

During his junior year, duty in World War II called and he answered. 

“I wasn’t the only one,” Raunch said. “Thousands of young men were taken out of college and went into service.”

When he returned he and his late wife Jeanne moved to Gastonia. They took out a loan, bought machinery and opened a small business manufacturing crochet thread and wrapping cord.

“It got to a point where I had about $1 million in volume and 40 employees.”

But things really expanded when Rauch got a call from Bill Spiegal of the famed Spiegal Catalog.

“We made what was called the satin Christmas ornament,” Raunch said. It was expandable polystyrene center and rayon wrapped around it.”

In five years, his business grew from 40 employees in Gastonia to 1400 in six states, making this Jewish native New Yorker the biggest Christmas ornament manufacturer in the world. 

In 1995, Rauch sold his company for $51 million. But more than a prospering business, this 100-year-old credits serving others to his longevity, at 29 years old in Gastonia’s city council, working closely to integrate the community. Later, he worked in North Carolina’s state senate, eventually landing on the Board of Governors that runs the university system.

With five children and a wealth of impact, he says the one thing he values most is charity.

“I really liked the idea of helping someone and then never have to be helped,” Rauch said.

Contact Fred Shropshire at fred@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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home

Tips on better recycling habits in 2023

Charlotte is already a great recycling city, but we can certainly do better.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to a recent survey, 80% of Charlotteans consider themselves an expert or ‘good’ at recycling — that’s 7% higher than the national average.

But we do make mistakes from time to time. So, why not make better recycling habits a resolution for 2023?

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

Recycling and trying to be more sustainable are some of the easiest ways to help the environment.

Jeremy Walters, a Sustainability Ambassador for Republic Services, said recycling is easier than you think.

“It’s so important that we only focus on the good recyclables,” he explained. “When we start talking about plastics and some of the misconceptions around recycling, that’s where we see challenges.”

Here’s what we should always recycle:

Plastic bottlesPlastic jugsPlastic tubs

The single biggest problem is flexible plastic – like grocery bags, bubble wrap, and storage bags. 

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Walters said they gum up the machines at the recycling center and oftentimes, the bag and all its contents will get tossed.

“The best thing you can do is just avoid it altogether and bring your own bags to the grocery store,” he said.

However, there are alternative uses if you find yourself with extras. Many stores offer drop-off for single-use plastic bags, so that’s the best way to get rid of them.

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

Other common mistakes include not rinsing out bottles and trying to recycle cardboard with food waste on it.

Walters said we should look at recycling as reusing material, rather than using energy and resources to create something from scratch.

He added recycling isn’t the end-all-be-all to end climate change, but it can have a profound impact on the environment.

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

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animals

What are the leash laws in Charlotte?

CMPD Animal Care and Control officials said leash law violations happen often. Most of the time when they are notified, it involves an attack.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s hard to walk a greenway or even go to a brewery in Charlotte without seeing a dog. 

According to the U.S. News and World Report, Charlotte is in the top 40 best cities to be a dog owner. But with that comes a lot of people giving their dogs some freedom and keeping them off a leash.

Recently, there have been several posts on social media complaining about unleashed dogs and the consequences they can sometimes bring. CMPD Animal Care and Control officers were called nearly 700 times for dog attacks in 2022.

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Anyone who is out in public in Mecklenburg County with a pet is required by law to always have them on a leash and under physical restraint. CMPD Animal Care and Control officials say this is for the safety of everybody.

“The reason the leash law is important is not all dogs get along with other dogs,” Melissa Kniceley with CMPD Animal Care and Control said. “We see it here all the time, even though a dog may get along with the first three dogs it meets, that fourth dog, for some reason, it doesn’t get along with and a fight ensues.” 

A walk should be an enjoyable exercise for a dog and its owner but post after post on social media shows off-leash dogs are at times, terrorizing neighbors. The latest incident happened in the Oakhurst neighborhood. Facebook comments indicate it’s a common issue near the neighborhood garden. 

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Having a dog off its leash in public is against both county and city law, except in certain places, like dog parks. CMPD Animal Care and Control issued 795 leash law violations in 2022. The citations are issued in levels, with a warning being given on the first offense. 

CMPD Animal Care and Control officials provided a breakdown of violations in 2022 by level:

LEASH Law WARNINGS: 225LEASH Law 1: 399 violationsLEASH Law 2: 98 violationsLEASH Law 3: 41 violationsLEASH Law 4: 16 violationsLEASH Law 5: 16 violations

Officers use the warning as an opportunity to educate dog owners.

“If you get cited again, the fees are going to escalate,” Knicely said. “They start at a $50 fine, then they go up to $500. And if you have five leash law violations, there’s going to be an investigation.”

That could lead to Animal Care and Control permanently taking a dog.

Leash laws are meant to promote safety, for both the animals and their owners who can have better control over them. It’s also important that all dogs are leashed because some can be reactive, scared or defensive when they’re on a leash but another dog is not.

“Some of my clients who have fearful dogs or dogs who are more reactive on leash, I tell them to carry something that makes noise to help deter that other dog, like a whistle,” Chelsey Biosi, owner and lead trainer of Command Canine said.

Any neighborhood having issues can request an Animal Care and Control officer to speak about leash laws or any other issues with animals.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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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.  […]

Entertainment

QC Happenings: 7 ways to enjoy your weekend in Charlotte

This weekend boasts plenty of opportunities to hear live music and shop with local vendors in the Charlotte area.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Enjoy a break from the rain this weekend with markets, live music and more in the Queen City. See what’s happening!

Friday, Feb. 3

90s Movie Series @ Camp North End

Enjoy a cozy night under the stars at Camp North End during the Be Kind, Rewind: 90s Movie Series, every Friday from now until March 31. This weekend’s showing is of Groundhog Day. Find more information here.

First Fridays in Rock Hill

Every first Friday in 2023, make your way to Old Town Rock Hill for great music, food shopping at First Fridays. Find more information here.

MORE NEWS: Beyoncé is bringing her tour to Charlotte this summer

Live Music @ The Wine Loft

Start your weekend off with live jams at The Wine Loft starting at 9 p.m. Find more information about this free event here.

Saturday, Feb. 4

Books & Buddies Book Swap @ Camp North End

Enjoy books, dogs and ice cream under one roof at the Books and Buddies Book Swap. Bring up to three of your old books to swap for new ones while you meet adoptable dogs from Charlotte-based rescue, Billie’s Buddies. There will also be dairy-free ice cream available on-site. Entry is $10. Find more information here.

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

Valentine’s Day NoDaHood Market @ Divine Barrel Brewing

Find all your Valentine’s Day needs at the latest edition of the NoDaHood Market, featuring vendors, food trucks and more. Happening from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Find more information here.

Sunday, Feb. 5

Charlotte Hornets vs. Orlando @ Spectrum Center

The Hornets are back in the Queen City on Saturday as they take on the Orlando Heat in regular season action. Happening at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased here.

MORE NEWS: Luke Bryan is coming to Charlotte this fall

Live Jazz @ The Warmack

End the weekend with live jazz music at the Warmack in Plaza Midwood. General admission is free and VIP tables start at $100. Find more information here.

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

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Education

NC needs 5,000 more teachers; vacancies up almost 60%

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s public school systems saw a 58.4% increase in vacant teaching positions this fall, according to a new state report. Vacancies topped 5,000 teachers, comprising more than 5% of all teachers.
The report partly illustrates the challenges school leaders and teachers have voiced about fully staffing their schools — and adequately educating students with employees stretched thin. The growing struggle is now coinciding with pressure to speed up students’ learning and make up for the slowed pace of learning that occurred during the first year or more of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lower student test scores.
“If we don’t turn around this trend, we face serious consequences in our K-12 system,” said Eric Davis, chairman of the State Board of Education.
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

Charlotte teen dies in Kannapolis shooting, suspect in custody

“We do not believe this was a random incident and the investigation is ongoing,” the Kannapolis Police Department said in a released statement Monday.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — A 17-year-old from Charlotte died after a shooting in Kannapolis Thursday, the Kannapolis Police Department announced Monday.

Around 11 p.m., Ty’el Hankins, of Charlotte, was driving along Elwood Street in Kannapolis when the shooting occurred, according to police. Hankins, who was found inside his car which had crashed into a home on the street, had suffered a gunshot wound.

Two other juveniles were also involved in the incident, according to police. They were treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Police did not specify their involvement in the incident.

“We do not believe this was a random incident and the investigation is ongoing,” the Kannapolis Police Department said in a released statement Monday.

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On Thursday, police said a 14-year-old was identified as a suspect in connection to the killing and is now in custody.

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

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Kannapolis Police Department at 704-920-4000.

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Listen to free podcasts from WCNC Charlotte

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 

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.  

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.  […]

home

Mecklenburg sheriff announces changes to hurry gun permit delays

Sheriff Garry McFadden has faced multiple lawsuits over alleged intentional delays in processing concealed carry and gun-purchase permits.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Editor’s note: The attached video originally aired Nov. 28, 2022.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office says it has implemented several changes to help clear the backlog of handgun permits that led to lawsuits against Sheriff Garry McFadden. 

The sheriff’s office said in a news release that it has processed over 6,200 applications to meet the demand and continues to process applications as soon as possible. Some of the changes include mailing permits to customers to eliminate visits to the sheriff’s office and a new interface that reduces duplicate entries for new applicants. Almost 3,800 hours of overtime have been logged by workers processing permits this fiscal year, according to Mecklenburg County officials. 

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A lawsuit filed by Grass Roots North Carolina, Gun Owners of America and three private citizens accused McFadden of obstructionism, alleging he intentionally delayed issuing concealed carry permits and gun-purchasing permits. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said the backlog in permits stems from the medical offices that review mental health checks, especially the VA. 

“Ninety-nine sheriffs in the state of North Carolina can conduct these checks correctly, properly without having to send anything to the VA,” Adam Stevens, a spokesperson for Grass Roots North Carolina, said.

In a news release, the sheriff’s office said not every applicant discloses their military status on their application, which leads to delays. 

“To be certain we are getting accurate information, the process is to check everyone through the same facilities,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

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According to the North Carolina General Statutes, a sheriff’s office has 45 days to issue or deny a concealed carry handgun permit once it receives all documents including medical health releases.

Now the statute itself does not specify a particular process for sheriff’s offices to handle mental health checks. Despite this, Grass Roots North Carolina said the agency is taking advantage of the system.

“They are using a procedure that unjustly delays the process,” Stevens said. “So we are asking in this lawsuit that the actual medical health portion of this be declared unconstitutional.”

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app to watch live newscasts and on-demand videos.

[embedded content]

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.  […]

home

You can ride CATS transit for free this Saturday

Transit Equity Day is a nationally recognized day to promote equity and accessibility in public transit.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) announced that on Saturday, Feb. 4, all CATS bus routes, paratransit, the LYNX Blue Line and the City LYNX Gold Line will be fare-free in honor of Transit Equity Day.

Transit Equity Day is a nationally recognized day to promote equity and accessibility in public transit. CATS said this day serves to honor the legacy of the civil rights activist, Rosa Parks on what would have been her 110th birthday.

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

“Rosa Parks’ courageous act of defiance, against segregation and discrimination, was a historically significant moment in the fight for equal treatment for Black Americans,” CATS said in a news release. “Transit Equity Day serves as a lasting way to commemorate her legacy in creating fair and equitable transit across the nation.” 

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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. 

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home

Independence Boulevard shut down by crash near Bojangles Coliseum

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — All lanes of inbound Independence Boulevard a shut down due to a crash near Bojangles Coliseum. 
The crash happened between Briar Creek Road and Eastway Drive around 7 a.m. As of 7:15 a.m., inbound traffic was backed up to Sharon Amity Road. The road is expected to reopen around 8 a.m. 
Drivers heading into Charlotte from Highway 74 should seek an alternate route to avoid the area until further notice. 
Drivers can take Monroe Road and Central Avenue as alternate routes around the Independence Boulevard closure. 
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home

Yes, participating in Dry January does help most people drink less during the year

The popularity of Dry January continues to increase, with an estimated one in five US adults giving Dry January a try in 2022.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We are two days into February which means the Dry January challenge is over but are people grabbing the bottle because they haven’t had any alcohol for a month? Or does Dry January really help curb alcohol cravings?

The popularity of Dry January continues to increase, with an estimated one in five US adults giving Dry January a try in 2022. 

THE QUESTION: 

Does participating in Dry January actually help the majority of people drink less during the year? 

OUR SOURCES:

THE ANSWER: 

Yes, participating in Dry January does help most people drink less during the year. 

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WHAT WE FOUND: 

According to the National Library of Medicine, the Dry January challenge started in the UK about 10 years ago. It’s aimed at people who want more control over their alcohol consumption. 

“Those positive feelings, sleep and the rest and the weight loss, all of it makes people feel like, hey, I don’t feel like going back to this,” Dr. Kohli said. 

So does a month of not drinking help people lower their consumption overall? According to a study by the University of Sussex, it does. Eight hundred people took part in the Dry January study in 2018. The results showed that come August; participants were still drinking less. On average, drinking days fell from 4 days per week to 3. 

“What dry January does is it doesn’t make you sober for the rest of your life it makes it, so you understand control, you know your triggers, and you understand how good you feel when you are not drinking a lot,” Dr. Kohli said. 

Dr. Kohli tells WCNC, on average, people will lose about four and a half pounds in a month if they don’t touch alcohol and add to that the fact that people are generally getting more sleep, saving money, and feeling less anxious says all that helps make people want to keep going. 

“It gives you back that control so that you are not a victim of what you are drinking, but you’re in control and get to decide how much you drink,” Dr. Kohli said. 

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.  […]

connect-the-dots

Several groups working to regain felon voting rights in NC

Back in 1973, lawmakers passed a bill restricting felons’ voting rights and it’s now facing backlash.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Around 56,000 North Carolinians are waiting to regain their right to vote.

Let’s connect the dots

Back in 1973, lawmakers passed a bill restricting felons’ voting rights and it’s now facing backlash.

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Several groups, including North Carolina’s NAACP chapter, are suing state house speaker Tim Moore. Plaintiffs in the case argue it’s meant to disenfranchise Black voters who are more likely to face a felony conviction.

Republicans, on the other hand, continue to defend the law. It’s been a long road to get here as just last year a trial court ruled felons who are not in prison could register to vote.

But the appeals process has taken the case to the highest court in North Carolina. Now, with a Republican majority on the Supreme Court, striking down the controversial law could be unlikely.

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

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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. 

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Metropolitan Transit Commission votes on Silver Line route and Charlotte Transit Center design

The future Silver Line will stick to its originally planned route with some changes near Bojangles Coliseum, and the future CTC in Uptown will be underground.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte transportation leaders gave an update on the future Silver Line light rail route and the Charlotte Transit Center during Tuesday’s Charlotte Area Transit System meeting. 

Metropolitan Transit Commission votes

The Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) ultimately voted to refine the Silver Line’s route near the Bojangles Coliseum in east Charlotte. CATS staff members said the changes will have better traffic flow than the original plan. 

The big debate for some time has been the Silver Line’s route in Uptown.

As a reminder, the Silver Line is a 29-mile train system that would connect Belmont to Union County.

The original plan, called the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), was adopted by the MTC in 2019. The route runs alongside Interstate 277 on Uptown’s perimeter. 

However, developers presented two alternative designs in 2022 after running into some challenges with the LPA. The other designs would’ve been more cost-effective and run directly through Uptown by sharing tracks with either the Blue Line or Gold Line.

CATS is moving forward with its originally adopted plan for the Silver Line route (the Locally Preferred Option that runs on the outskirts of Uptown). Since this has been adopted by the MTC in the past, no vote was needed on this agenda item tonight. @wcnc— Julia Kauffman (@JuliaKauffmanTV) February 1, 2023

CATS is now moving forward with the originally adopted plan for the Silver Line route running on the outskirts of Uptown. Leaders said this would capture more residents and is more reliable, although it’s more expensive.

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The total Silver Line project could cost nearly $9 billion. CATS is working to secure the funding.  

Reminder: The Metropolitan Transit Commission meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m.Watch it live on CATS’ YouTube: https://t.co/vk1p8MPlnK pic.twitter.com/77CA3XP7s2— Charlotte Area Transit System (@CATSRideTransit) January 30, 2023

The commission also voted Tuesday night on the design of the new Uptown transportation center. Transit leaders said earlier this month the city should move forward with the “concourse” design, which moves the bus terminal below ground. This design also includes street-level rail platforms and could cost around $89 million. 

MTC voted Tuesday to approve the below-ground concourse option of the redeveloped transit center. 

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City staff said the underground option will best integrate the rail trail and light rail with the bus hub and will be easier for riders to navigate than the two-level terrace option that was struck down.  

Addressing safety at the transportation center

Some riders and elected officials have expressed safety concerns about putting the bus terminal underground. 

However, CATS planning director Jason Lawrence argued that it’s the safest option because it’s, “somewhat more easy to maintain security given just the one platform to monitor.” 

Lawrence explained that security staff will be able to focus on monitoring one underground level versus the two levels of bus terminals in the other option.

CATS promises the future hub will have proper lighting and security measures but it’s unclear what that will look like. 

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Krissy Oechslin, chair of the Transit Services Advisory Committee (TSAC), suggested that CATS could make the underground terminal more secure by requiring a ticket to enter it.

Mayor Vi Lyles said it’s important to look at what other cities got right and wrong when it comes to safety in underground transit centers. 

“My daughter lives in Washington D.C. and they have underground, and they’re clean, well lit, [and] secure,” Lyles said. 

Charlotte’s underground area will just be for buses, similar to Denver’s Union Station. As reported by WCNC Charlotte’s news partner 9News, Union Station’s bus terminal has had issues with reported drug-use and crime.

However, the Denver Police Department and transportation officials began cracking down on illegal activity last year.

Construction for Charlotte’s new transit center is expected to start in 2025 and the first phase of the Silver Line is expected to start sometime in the 2030s.

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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 || Stitcher || Google Podcasts 

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crime

Monroe Police investigating after shooting in Walmart parking lot

Police have not given the status of the victim, and it’s not clear if a suspect is in custody.

MONROE, N.C. — One person was shot in the Walmart parking lot in Monroe, police confirmed. The Monroe Police Department is investigating.

Police have not given the status of the victim, and it’s not clear if a suspect is in custody. Further details about the investigation have not been made public. 

WCNC Charlotte is working to learn more information about the investigation. For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.  

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.

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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 || Stitcher || Google Podcasts  

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.   

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   

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crime

Homicide under investigation in southeast Charlotte, CMPD confirms

Details about the investigation are limited at this time.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating a homicide in southeast Charlotte.

The investigation is taking place on Pineburr Road near the intersection with Thermal Road, which is near Monroe Road.

Details about the investigation are limited at this time. CMPD has not provided information on a victim, a suspect, or any additional injuries. WCNC Charlotte is working to learn more about the investigation. For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.  

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.

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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 || Stitcher || Google Podcasts  

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.   

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. 

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crime

School fight where principal intervened under investigation in Anson County

The district is now saying Principal Chris Stinson and a school resource officer were trying to diffuse a situation between two students.

ANSON COUNTY, N.C. — The Wadesboro Police Department is looking into an incident in Anson County where a school employee put his hands on a student. It happened Tuesday at Anson High School.

A video posted on social media shows a man putting his hands around the upper body and near the neck of a student.

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The district is now saying Principal Chris Stinson and a school resource officer were trying to diffuse a situation between two students as school was letting out Tuesday, and one of the students attacked the other one.

The district said Stinson used “what appeared to be reasonable force” to separate the two students and was struck in the jaw in the process. Stinson then pulled the student who initiated the fight away from the other, according to the district.

The statement from the district says, in part, “Mr. Stinson appeared to be under control throughout the situation and is specifically authorized by law to use reasonable force to control behavior or to remove a person from the scene in situations when it is necessary to quell a disturbance threatening injury to others, for self-defense, for the protection of people or property, or to maintain order on educational property. School employees are expected to act to intervene in altercations between students and to act appropriately when doing so.”

The district says that while Stinson did have his arm across the student’s shoulders and under his chin, Stinson denies choking the student and the student did not complain of being choked during or after the incident. 

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“Mr. Stinson is a highly respected and valued school administrator who acted quickly to break up a fight and to prevent further injury to a student who had been attacked,” the district said in the statement.

The Wadesboro Police Department is investigating.

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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 […]