Friday, August 26, 2011

Mayor Foxx To Lead Delegation To China For Economic Development

Mayor Anthony Foxx will lead a delegation of local business and civic
leaders traveling to China to meet with Chinese government and
business leaders in Beijing, Baoding, Langfang and Shanghai November
10 - 19, 2011.

The trip will focus on economic development, including expanding
investment in Charlotte, building on city's new EcoPartnership with
Langfang, and highlighting Charlotte's emergence as a global energy
hub. This will be Mayor Foxx's first international visit since taking
office in December 2009.

Among the trip's highlights, the delegation will visit the energy
facilities of Boading Tianwei, ENN Group in Langfang and Jetion Solar
outside of Shanghai. In July 2011, Jetion Solar (a subsidiary of
Jetion Solar China, Ltd.) opened the company's North American sales
and service center in Charlotte. While in Shanghai, the Charlotte
International Cabinet and corporate sponsors will host a Business
Networking Reception for the Mayor's delegation, representatives of
Chinese companies with a presence in Charlotte and 15 members of the
North Carolina General Assembly visiting China with a separate

"China's economy has grown into the second largest in the world.
Seventeen Chinese companies are already invested in the Charlotte
region. We believe this number has the potential to grow exponentially
over the coming decades. Increasing our knowledge of China and
building relationships in China today will create jobs in Charlotte in
the future. We applaud Mayor Foxx for his leadership and are pleased
to partner on his mission to China," said Bob Morgan, Charlotte
Chamber President.

While in Langfang, the Mayor's delegation will meet with local
political leaders and energy executives to strengthen the Charlotte's
EcoPartnership relationship, established in May 2010, between the City
of Charlotte, the City of Langfang, Duke Energy and ENN Group to focus
on cleaner energy generation, smart grid technologies and energy
efficiency solutions.

In Baoding, the delegation will meet with political officials and
celebrate the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Boading-Charlotte
Sister City relationship, an alliance that has helped to foster
multiple exchanges between the cities. Over the past decade, the
Chinese government has designated Boading as the "Electricity Valley"
with approximately 170 renewable energy companies with operations
established there. The parallel economic situations of Charlotte and
Baoding have created an opportunity to leverage the Sister City
relationship into direct commercial and investment ties.

"We are delighted to have Mayor Foxx join the Charlotte International
Cabinet to promote international relationships with Charlotte. For the
first time in over a decade, the CIC is able to engage a Mayor in
direct citizen diplomacy in Baoding. We are excited to utilize
existing funds to promote economic development and advance educational
exchange opportunities between our two cities," said Charlotte
International Cabinet Baoding Committee Chair and Executive Board
member Rory McNicholas.

Mayor Foxx's travel to China is paid for by the Charlotte
International Cabinet. The CIC receives funding from a variety of
sources, including the City of Charlotte to promote Charlotte as an
international city and serve as a resource to foster international
relationships. The CIC budget directs a portion of their funding
specifically for Mayoral visits to Sister Cities. The rest of the
delegation will be sponsored by local companies.

Businesses can sponsor the Mayor's Delegation to China with a donation
to the Charlotte International Cabinet, a 501(c) 3 organization that
promotes Charlotte as an international city and serves as a resource
to foster international relationships. For more information on the
sponsorship packages, contact Alexis Gordon at (704) 336-2174 or visit

Tax Bills To Be Mailed Monday

Property owners will begin receiving their real property, business
personal property and individual personal property tax bills next
week. The Mecklenburg County Tax Collector will mail 361,281 bills on

Real Property
All real property - residential and commercial - was subject to
revaluation this year. Approximately half the properties were
reappraised at a higher value and half at a lower value. The Board of
County Commissioners set a tax rate of 81.66 cents per one-hundred
dollars of assessed value as part of the FY12 budget process. The
combination of the new value and new tax rate will be reflected in the
bills being sent on August 29. The total County tax revenue generated
from all residential and commercial property is $819 million.
Municipal taxes and/or Law Enforcement Service District tax is also
included in these bills.
Business Personal Property
Nearly 37,000 of the bills are for business personal property
accounting for more than $71 million in County revenue. Municipalities
also derive revenue from these bills. This is a tax on equipment and
other property used to conduct business.

Individual Personal Property
This group includes vehicles and trailers, jet skis, boats, boat
motors, aircraft, manufactured homes and income producing farm
equipment. There are more than 16,000 bills in this category,
accounting for nearly $1.5 million in tax.

An additional 30,000 properties will not be billed until October
because the property values are still under appeal.

Real estate and personal property bills are due September 1, 2011.
Those not paid on or before January 5, 2012 are subject to two-percent
interest for January and an additional three-quarters percent each
month after that. Property owners with a question about their bill are
encouraged to call 311 if calling from within Mecklenburg County or
704-336-4600 if calling from outside the County.

Park and Rec Hosts Tennis Tourney for Athletes with Disabilities

The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department will partner
with the Charlotte Tennis Association, Adaptive Tennis Association of
North Carolina and Special Olympics of North Carolina for the first
annual Charlotte Fall Challenge Tennis Tournament for athletes with
intellectual disabilities. The tournament is scheduled for Saturday,
Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Jeff Adams Tennis Center, 1200
W. Tyvola Road.

Athletes of all ages are invited to compete free of charge in one of
the following skill levels:
• Beginner (Skills)
• Intermediate (Short Court):
• Advanced (Match Play):
• Unified Doubles

To sign up for the tournament, contact Jeff Beard 704-604-1601 or

About the Charlotte Tennis Association, (CTA):

The Charlotte Tennis Association was founded in 1991, and since that
time has focused on its singular mission: To promote and develop the
game of tennis in the Greater Charlotte area. The Charlotte Tennis
Association is a non-profit organization and represents the United
States Tennis Association, Southern Tennis Association and North
Carolina Tennis Association in our community. A professional staff
carries out CTA's daily operations, but policy is formed and much of
the organization's work is executed via a board and volunteer
structure. For more information about the types of programs and
services offered by the CTA, visit

About the Adaptive Tennis Association of North Carolina, (ATANC):

Founded in June 2010, the mission of the ATANC is "To provide a
positive tennis experience, enhancing the mental, physical, emotional,
and social well being of individuals with intellectual disabilities
through their learning the skills required to participate and compete
in the sport of tennis." The ATANC was formed to partner with local
tennis programs offering support, training and events throughout the
state, on a year-round basis, for children and adults with
intellectual disabilities. For more information about the ATANC,
please visit

Early Voting Begins for Charlotte City Primary

Early voting began Aug. 25 for those voting in the City of Charlotte
Primary Election. The primary location for early voting is the first
floor of the Hal Marshall Annex at 618 North College St. and
additional locations are being added after Labor Day.

Dates and times are as follows:
Aug. 25 - Sept. 2 (Weekdays) 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sept. 6 - Sept. 9 (Weekdays) 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sept.10 (Saturday) 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
In observance of Labor Day, there will be No Early Voting Monday,
Sept. 5.

Additional Locations:
Beatties Ford Road Library 2412 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte
Independence Regional Library 6000 Conference Dr., Charlotte
Main Branch Library (Downtown) 310 N. Tryon St., Charlotte
Morrison Regional Library 7015 Morrison Blvd., Charlotte
South County Regional Library 5801 Rea Rd., Charlotte
Steele Creek Library 13620 Steele Creek Rd., Charlotte
University City Regional Library 301 E. W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte
West Boulevard Library 2157 West Blvd., Charlotte

Hours of Operation:
Sept. 6 - September 9 (Weekdays) 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sept. 10 (Saturday) 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

The popularity of early voting has grown steadily over the years and
in the presidential election in 2010 there were more than 65,000
residents who used early voting to cast their ballot. Board of
Elections Director Michael Dickerson hopes to have 40% of voters use
the early voting option to make tallying the vote on election night
quicker and easier.

For all election information visit the Board of Elections web site.

Help Mecklenburg County Reduce Waste the Natural Way

Fall is almost here, and there's no better time for the residents of
Mecklenburg County to go natural and learn to make rich fertilizer for
spring gardening.

In their ongoing effort to reduce waste, experts from Mecklenburg
County Solid Waste Management have announced a series of workshops in
composting and other methods of residential organic waste control.
Anyone can compost almost anything organic – from vegetable peelings
to yard waste. Instead of relegating all that organic matter to the
garbage can, learn how to put it to good use.

The workshops are held the following Saturdays from 10 a.m.-noon and
the cost is FREE. Register at our website at,
under the Home Composting tab, or call 704.336.4304 to sign up.

Date and Location:

September 10, 2011

Friendship Baptist Church

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

September 10, 2011

Reedy Creek Nature Center

10 a.m. to noon

October 15, 2011

Reedy Creek Nature Center

10 a.m. to noon

October 15, 2011

St. Albans Community Garden, Davidson

10 a.m. to noon

October 22, 2011

McDowell Nature Center

10 a.m. to noon

November 5, 2011

St. Albans Community Garden, Davidson

10 a.m. to noon

November 12, 2011

Reedy Creek Nature Center

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

November 12, 2011

McDowell Nature Center

10 a.m. to noon

Charlotte doctors start innovative program for teen weight loss

America's children are facing a major health crisis of obesity. The
Centers for Disease Control reports 32% of American children are
overweight. That number has doubled from the 1980s. What's worse, 17%
of the nation's children and teens are considered obese. That number
has tripled in the same time span. Our kids are locked in a vicious,
unhealthy cycle that can create lifelong medical problems unless
there's a dramatic lifestyle change.

"I am bringing PowerPlay™ to the Queen City because I believe it is
critical to intervene at an early age to disrupt this dangerous
cycle," says Dr. Matt Neulander, Medical Director at Medi-Weightloss
Clinics® in North Carolina. "Current research shows 80% of children
ages 10-15 who battle obesity persist to become obese adults by age 25
and if not treated, adult obesity can lead to the full complement of
weight-associated conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and
some cancers."

Powerplay™ was designed by trained physicians and medical experts in
the fields of pediatrics, public health, bariatrics and education. It
is one of the first physician–supervised, comprehensive weight loss
programs designed specifically to meet the needs of adolescents aged
12-18. Powerplay™ consists of individual and family consultation to
provide guidance, motivation and support, along with multivitamin and
calcium supplements specially formulated for teens, plus nutrition and
exercise education.

The Powerplay™ program counters the major catalysts for childhood
obesity; lack of physical activity, increased portion size, poor diet,
the overabundance of fast food and increased screen time (both
television and computer). In addition, weight gain can make it even
more difficult for a child to exercise due to embarrassment or rapid
exhaustion, which increases the chances of further weight gain. The
cycle continues until the child begins to suffer from weight related
medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes. These issues may
further the development of low self-esteem and even depression, which
in turn can lead to increased eating and diminished exercise.

"I have seen what obesity does to children- mentally and physically-
in my work at Miami Children's Hospital," says pediatrician Dr. Sejal
Shah, medical director for PowerPlay™. "As a mother of two children, I
know every parent wants the best for their child. That's why I'm
confident the PowerPlay™ program can improve the health and quality of
life for every children enrolled in the program."

Medi-Weightloss Clinics® is now offering PowerPlay™ in its three
Charlotte, NC locations: Ballantyne, South Park, and Northlake,
Midlothian, and Glen Allen, VA, and Irmo, SC. Please call for more
information or visit

Fees Now Being Charged for Driver Education

During the 2011 Legislative Session the North Carolina General
Assembly cut over $5 million from the state's driver education
allotment. Local school systems were given permission to charge each
student enrolled in driver education a fee of up to $45.00 to make up
for lost funds.

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg
School System will charge a fee of $45.00 to students taking the
classroom phase of driver education. The behind-the-wheel phase will
still be free of charge to the student.

The CMS driver education office is in the process of setting up a
system by which the fee can be paid on-line with a credit card.
Students will also be able to bring their payment on the first day of
class. When paying in class, it must be cash, certified check, or
money order. Payee must be Jordan Driving School, Inc.

While this whole payment process is still being finalized the CMS
driver education office, along with Jordan Driving School who provides
the instructional part of driver education for CMS, felt that parents
and students needed this notification that a fee was now in place for
the classroom phase of driver education.

For more information, contact:

Jordan Driving School, Inc.

8420 University Executive Park Drive, Suite 820

Charlotte, NC 28262


City and County Invite You to 9/11 National Moment of Remembrance

On September 11, the City of Charlotte will be joining with
Mecklenburg County to host an event in remembrance of the attacks on
September 11, 2001. The event, which pays tribute to those who lost
their lives, will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, at
Freedom Park (1900 East Boulevard) and is a part of the 9/11 National
Moment of Remembrance.

The 9/11 National Moment of Remembrance was established through the
unanimous approval of a Senate resolution introduced by Senator Frank
Lautenberg of New Jersey and co-sponsored by all 100 United States

"Ten years after the tragic events of September 11, 2011, we continue
to remember the lives lost on that day," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony
Foxx. "We encourage everyone in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to join in
remembrance by either taking a personal moment of reflection or
through attending this or similar events that day."

"We want to make sure we remember all of our fire, police and military
service people and their families during this time and let them know
that those lost in the 9/11 attacks will never be forgotten," said
Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Jennifer Roberts.

For one minute beginning at 1 p.m., the National 9/11Moment of
Remembrance asks every person to stop and remember the 2,977 lives
lost. Places of worship are encouraged to observe the moment by
ringing their bells during that period of time.

"I am pleased Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are participating in
the National Moment of Remembrance and will be a part of this shared
moment of American solidarity on September 11th," said Sen.
Lautenberg. "As bells ring out across the country, every American
should stop and remember for one minute the thousands of innocent
lives lost on 9/11 and take pride in the strength and perseverance of
the American people."

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Smith Brothers Choose Lake Norman for Third Feature Film, "Infliction"

A taste of Hollywood is coming to the Lake Norman area. Brothers Jack
Thomas Smith (right) and local Michael Smith (left) are bringing
shooting and production of the feature film "Infliction" to the Lake
Norman area.

This is the third feature film the two have produced together. Their
last feature film "Disorder" was released nationwide on DVD by
Universal and New Light Entertainment, and was screened at The Cannes
Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival in London. "Infliction"
is being produced and shot on location in the Lake Norman area from
start to finish.

Jack Smith, the writer, producer and director of Infliction, will
personally be at the open auditions, August 27 from 10-3 & August 28
from 12-4 at Lake Norman Performing Arts,
Michael Smith's wife, Erika Smith, is the Owner & Director of Lake
Norman Performing Arts, which is also serving as the production
facility for Infliction. Michael Smith said, "The movie needs over
200 extras and supporting roles ages 3 and up, so there is plenty of
opportunity for people in the community to be in this film. Also,
Lake Norman Performing Arts is having their Open House the same
weekend as the auditions, so it's a great chance for everyone to see
what a wonderful studio my wife has built for this area."

The brothers have a long history of making movies and music starting
in childhood. Born in Philadelphia, PA, they lived there until their
family relocated to a quiet island community in Michigan, which would
later serve as Jack's inspiration for another upcoming film In the
Dark. Jack began to write at a very young age after reading the
Stephen King novels Salem's Lot and The Shining. By the time he was
eleven, he had written a 300-page novel and a number of short stories.
Michael began playing guitar and writing songs when he was five. His
early favorite musicians were Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones
among others.

The Smith family later moved to Sparta, NJ. It was there that Jack
discovered the films of George A. Romero and Stanley Kubrick. Inspired
to make movies, Jack wrote and directed a handful of short films that
were shot on Super 8mm and starred his brother and friends in all of
the roles. Michael began his role as executive producer even then. His
brother's biggest supporter, he was always there to help bring the
production together.

As a young adult, Jack began his career by producing the feature film
The Regenerated Man, which was written and directed by Ted Bohus. He
has since written and directed many other films. In 1998, Smith was
instrumental in the re-release of Night of the Living Dead for its
30th anniversary. He worked with John Russo in the securing of funds
for the shooting of new footage and assisted in the hiring of
crewmembers. Smith's production company is currently developing the
action/horror film In The Dark, the drama Illegals, and the comedy
Ties That Bind.

In addition to Michael Smith being the executive producer of the film,
he is also the songwriter of the music that will be in the film.
Michael has had songs in movies and commercials, and last year won a
Collective Works award in VH1's Song of the Year contest. Michael's
inspiration for writing songs has always come from his experiences. He
played in numerous bands throughout the New York tri-state area and
opened for bands such as Blues Traveler and Warrant. Michael currently
writes songs, sings, plays guitar, piano, drums and bass guitar.
Michael also owns and operates several medical practices in the
Southeast. For more information about the Open Audition and the film
Infliction go to

Be Inspired and Have Fun at the Easter Seals UCP 12th Annual Walk With Me

Easter Seals UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) is holding its 12th annual
Walk With Me event at Freedom Park on Saturday, October 8th. This
annual fundraiser for the Charlotte area benefits critical programs
and services for children and adults with disabilities and special
needs. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. and the 5K family-friendly
walk starts at 10:00 a.m. followed by festival activities and food for
all participants.

Walk With Me is an event where individuals and families of all
abilities can participate, including honorary ambassadors who have
benefitted from Easter Seals UCP programs and services and offer
inspiration to others.

The honorary ambassadors for this year's event include:

Nicholas, age 2. Nicholas attends the Easter Seals UCP Children's
Center where he has the opportunity to be included in a classroom of
children with and without special needs and be treated as a typical
two year old despite having cerebral palsy. He also has the
opportunity to receive specialized therapies to aid in his development
from on-site physical, speech and occupational therapists.

De'Vante, age 17. Born with cerebral palsy, De'Vante began receiving
Easter Seals UCP services when he was eight years old to help aid in
his care and development. De'Vante is learning to live more
independently and will be graduating from high school this year.
Following graduation, De'Vante will be working with Easter Seals UCP's
Supportive Employment Program to receive job training and job
placement assistance.

"Walk With Me is a unique event because it brings people of all
abilities together," said Amanda Hogan, development manager for Easter
Seals UCP's Charlotte market. "The honorary ambassadors are our
mission in action and showcase the value of Easter Seals UCP in our
community. Our walkers support makes it possible for Easter Seals UCP
to continue to provide opportunities for people with disabilities in
our area to live with equality, dignity and independence."

For more information or to participate in Walk With Me, please call
(704) 566-6040 or visit

About Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
Headquartered in Raleigh, NC with programs and services throughout
North Carolina and Virginia, Easter Seals UCP is a lifelong partner to
families managing disabilities and mental health challenges. The
nonprofit serves more than 20,000 individuals and their families
annually through an array of services. Easter Seals UCP enhances the
quality of life for individuals and maximizes their potential for
engaging in their communities. For more information on Easter Seals
UCP North Carolina & Virginia, please

Concord Nonprofit 'Petey's Promise' Wins New Toyota to Expand Services

Toyota is pleased to announce that Petey's Promise, an organization in
Concord, North Carolina that provides financially challenged pet
owners with pet food and supplies, has been selected as a winner of
Toyota's 100 Cars for Good program. 100 Cars for Good is a major new
philanthropic initiative from the automaker that is awarding 100 cars
to 100 U.S. nonprofits over the course of 100 days.

Petey's Promise will receive a new Toyota Tundra, which will be used
to pick up pet food and supplies from local retailers. The
organization was selected as one of 500 finalists from thousands of
applications nationwide and picked as a winner through a public vote
on Facebook. Runners-up in the program each receive $1,000.
Additional details on 100 Cars for Good as well as information on all
of the program's finalists are available

"The outpouring of support and interest in the Toyota 100 Cars for
Good program has been tremendous," said Jim Wiseman, Group Vice
President of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. "It is amazing to see
how this program has brought individuals, organizations and
communities together. We are equally excited to see Petey's Promise
utilize its new vehicle to make an even greater impact in the

Public voting began on May 9 and continues for 100 consecutive days.
Each day, five organizations are profiled on the 100 Cars for Good
Facebook page and voters may vote for the nonprofit they feel is most
deserving of the vehicle. A vehicle will be awarded each day through
August 16. Voters may place one vote per day, each day, over the
course of the program.

Toyota's 100 Cars for Good program is a key part of the company's
philanthropy efforts, which have contributed more than half a billion
dollars to U.S. nonprofits since 1991. For more information on these
commitments, please visit

Friday, August 12, 2011

13000 Runners to Compete in Warrior Dash Carolinas

Warrior Dash is the ultimate event for thrill-seeking athletes and
party-goers. On Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28, fearless
runners will head to 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, to take on 11
intense obstacles over 3.08 miles of extreme terrain and celebrate
with friends and family during an all day festival with live music,
food and beer.

Warrior Dash will have participants jumping through fire, crawling
through mud pits, climbing over vehicles and working their way through
nine additional grueling obstacles. The first wave of the race will
begin at 10am, followed by waves of 500 racers taking off to battle
the course every half hour until the last group at 4:30pm.

Race Director Alex Yount says, "Warrior Dash is an event that runners
and spectators will never forget. After conquering an insane physical
challenge, racers celebrate with live music, beer and food, alongside
their fellow Warriors, friends and family."

Warrior Dash is nationally partnered with GreenSneakers, an
organization with a uniquely effective and environmentally friendly
fundraising opportunity that delivers local and global impact. With
GreenSneakers and the help of Warriors, donated tennis shoes are given
a second chance at life, keeping them out of local landfills all while
providing a great way for an organization to implement an
environmentally friendly fund raiser. This year with the help of Real
Warriors with Real Heart, GreenSneakers expects up to 300,000 pounds
of donations, equaling 176,000 pairs.

Participants are encouraged to suit up in their best Warrior attire
and are crowned with fuzzy Warrior helmets prior to racing. Turkey
legs and other Warrior grub will be available for purchase. Spectators
are welcome to enjoy the live music playing throughout the day, watch
the Warriors tackle the obstacles near the finish line and participate
in the other activities on site.

For more information, visit, watch the video on the
Red Frog Events' YouTube Channel, or contact Alex Yount at
(630)881-7439 or

Warrior Dash is a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell.
This fierce running series is held on the most challenging and rugged
terrain across the world. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push
their limits and celebrate with live music, beer and Warrior helmets.

School Buses: On the road again

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bus drivers will practice their routes
for five days each morning and afternoon before the first day of
school, Aug. 25. Around 950 school buses will conduct dry runs over
the five-day period, starting Aug. 15.

Drivers will practice driving their routes to become familiar with the
street network and bus stop locations. Drivers will not be picking up
students during the dry runs. As the buses will be on the roads from
approximately 6 a.m. to noon, it is important that the motoring public
plan for a little extra time in their morning commute next week.

Beginning Aug. 25, we ask that all drivers be extra cautious and alert
around stopped school buses. It is vital we all work together to make
it a safe opening of schools for CMS students.

"Our students' safety to and from school is our number-one priority,"
said Carol Stamper, executive director of transportation.
Parents should check the location of their child's bus stop before
school starts. Suggestions for parents and children include:
· Walk to and from your child's bus stop to become familiar
with its location.
· Ensure that your child arrives at his/her stop 10 to 15
minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
· Tell children to cross the street in front of the school bus
after the stop arm and hazard lights come on.
· Remind children to tell the bus driver if something is
dropped near the bus.
· Remind children to tell a school administrator or police
officer about any disruptive behavior or suspicious activity at stops.

Transportation information, including bus-stop locations, pick-up and
drop-off times and bus route-numbers, is being mailed to families.
Parents with questions about transportation or a bus stop should call
the school or the Transportation office at 980-343-6715. Parents can
also fill out a transportation service request form online to request
changes to their child's transportation schedule.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lake Norman Performing Arts Launches Fall Enrollment Period

Lake Norman Performing Arts ( is now enrolling
students of all ages in its wide range of classes and programs for fall.

The 4,000-square-foot facility is located directly across from Target
in the large shopping center at NC 73 and Highway 21, just off I-77
Exit 25 East in Huntersville. It features two large studios for ballet
and several other forms of dance, private rooms for learning a variety
of musical instruments, a professional sound recording studio, closed-
circuit TV so parents can watch their kids in action, and much more.

Parents can enroll their children by dropping by the LNPA facility
10-2 or 3-8 Monday through Thursday, and Saturday 9-1. An Open House
is also scheduled for August 27 and 28. Parents can also view the
diverse options and register children online at

"We are a conservatory-style school emphasizing strong technique in a
fun environment," said Erika Smith, Director and owner of LNPA. "We
have designed our programs to be very convenient for parents. They can
enroll multiple children in different arts classes at the same time,
and go shopping during class time if they want to."

As an added bonus for the open house August 27-28, open auditions will
be held at the LNPA for a feature film being planned for the Lake
Norman area. Main characters have been cast, but hundreds of secondary
roles and extras are needed, explained Mike Smith, Erika's husband.
"The movies are not formally connected to the LNPA, but we think it
would be fun to have some of our students and families in the movie.
Students enrolled at our school and their families will receive first
preference for parts being cast."

The LNPA had about 200 students during the last school year, and is
hoping for an increase for 2011-2012, Erika Smith said. "All of our
instructors have significant education and experience," she noted. "In
addition to my own background, for example, another dance instructor
Emily Green studied at the prestigious School of American Ballet, has
performed with numerous professional companies and for two seasons
with the touring production of Phantom of the Opera."

"Our program is designed to provide students with strong technique as
their artistic foundation," Erika said. "We are also parents of six
children, and offering this high quality of training at reasonable
prices makes it as open as possible to the whole community. That is
important to us."

Erika Smith and her husband Mike are both lifelong performing artists
themselves. Erika is a classically trained dancer who graduated from a
performing arts school in Florida and from UNC-Greensboro, studied at
the Martha Graham School in New York, and has choreographed and taught
all over North Carolina. In addition she co-founded The Dance
Cooperative in Wilmington, N.C., before moving to the Lake Norman
area. Mike sings, plays guitar, bass, piano and drums, and has
composed songs for commercials and movies. He won a Collective Works
Award in VH1's Song of the Year contest, and has produced several
films. He also owns and operates several medical practices in the

Friday, August 5, 2011

CMS shows some academic decline but tops state average

State ABC calculations made public Aug. 4 showed that academic growth
declined from a year ago in CMS, but still outperformed the state
average. CMS had 85.4 percent of schools making expected or high
growth, compared to 94.1 a year ago; the state average dropped to 81.4
percent from 88 percent a year ago.

Overall, the district had 82 schools making high growth, down from 108
a year ago. The number of schools making expected growth increased
from 51 to 64 and the number of schools with growth less than expected
was 25, up from 10 a year ago.

The greatest improvement occurred in middle schools in CMS, where more
schools made high growth and more schools made expected growth. Only
two middle schools did not make expected growth in the 2010-2011 year,
up from zero a year earlier.

In elementary schools, 41 schools made expected growth, up from 36 a
year ago. Schools making high growth declined to 46 from 58, and the
number of schools making less than expected growth rose to 16 from
nine a year earlier.

Interim Superintendent Hugh E. Hattabaugh characterized the results as
mixed, and said the district will work to improve them in coming
school year.

"We don't want to move backwards in any area. We've made great
progress since 2006 and we will work in the coming year to get the
district and its students moving ahead again," he said during a media
briefing about the results. "We think our pre-k-8 schools, as well as
our initiatives such as Strategic Staffing, will help us make more
progress in 2011-2012."

Hattabaugh and other district officials noted that three years of
large budget cuts have reduced the number of teachers and teacher
assistants, which affects classrooms. But Hattabaugh also noted that
the 2011-2012 budget, although still requiring cuts, did not have to
make cuts as large as in previous years. Consequently, CMS will be
able to restore some of the teaching and teaching-assistant ranks in
the 2011-2012 year.

North Carolina defines schools making high growth as those where, on
average, students make a year's growth in a year's time and the ratio
of students making at least a year's growth to those who did not is at
least 1.5 to 1.

Schools making expected growth are defined as schools where, on
average, students make a year's growth in a year's time.

Growth for each school is calculated using the end-of-year state tests
in math and reading, and five End-of-Course tests in high school:
English I, Algebra I, Biology, U.S. History, Civics and Economics. It
also factors in the dropout rate in high schools.

The number of schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the
federal standard required by No Child Left Behind, in CMS was 49. The
AYP standard looks at the performance of subgroups as well as the
school as a whole. The subgroups separate students by race, ethnicity
and family-income level.

To make AYP, a school must meet all of its targets. Some CMS schools
have fewer than 10 targets; others have more than 35. Eleven CMS
schools made 90 percent or more of their targets.

Learning To Live With Coyotes In Mecklenburg County

In light of recent coyote sightings throughout the Charlotte area, the
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, in cooperation with
the Towns of Cornelius and Huntersville, would like to provide the
community some brief information on coyotes and what to do in the
event that you encounter one.

Identifying Coyotes - Coyotes stand 23-26 inches tall and usually
weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. They are predominantly brownish-gray,
but colors can vary between individuals and by season. There are four
identifying characteristics that can help distinguish a coyote from a
small dog:

· Long slender snout
· Large erect ears
· A thick round bushy tail
· A stiff-legged lope, usually noticeable unless they are in
an all-out sprint.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and very intelligent. They are
opportunistic and often eat what is easiest to catch, feeding on many
different food sources. While they feed primarily on ever-abundant
rodents, they also eat rabbits, carrion (dead animals), ground nesting
birds/eggs, young fawns, reptiles, amphibians, insects and wild fruits
like persimmons. In areas with high human populations, they may eat
fruits and vegetables from gardens as well as refuse from trashcans
and dump sites. They have also been documented to prey on small
livestock and domestic animals. Cats and very small dogs are
vulnerable, particularly if left out at night. In order to avoid
humans, coyotes are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active
at night. Large dogs are seen as competition and coyotes will
naturally react in a territorial manner toward a dog of equal or
larger size. Coyote attacks on people are very rare and none have
been documented locally. Unless coyotes are being actively fed by
humans or are sick, they will keep their distance from people and
their leashed pets. Thus, it is very important to keep dogs on leashes
and an eye on domesticated cats that are allowed outside.

Coyotes were first spotted in North Carolina as early as the late
1930's but did not successfully establish themselves as part of the
natural wildlife until the late 1980's. The eastern expansion of this
species is due primarily to two human-induced factors. First, the
killing of red and gray wolves opened up habitat usable by coyotes.
Second, the illegal public release of coyotes into the eastern U.S.
for hunting resulted in the successful establishment of sustainable
local populations. Currently, coyotes are considered a natural part
of our wildlife County-wide and occupy an important role as a top-
level predator. With their successful establishment, it is not
feasible or cost-effective to develop a trapping or removal program
unless specific individuals exhibit behavior associated with diseases,
such as rabies.

Coyote Safety Tips
· Never approach or touch a coyote.
· Never feed coyotes or any wild animal directly or indirectly.
· Remember the buddy rule (go with a friend) while visiting a
park, nature preserve or greenway.
· Since our parks, nature preserves and greenways are home to
many birds, rodents and other small mammals, do not be surprised if
you see a coyote. In fact, you should expect to see them since they
are a part of our local wildlife.
· In order to protect pets, pet owners and wildlife,
responsible pet owners should keep pets on a leash, because, it's the
law! *
· An unattended small dog or cat can be easy prey for coyotes.
Do not walk small dogs at night and cats should remain indoors as much
as possible.
· Viewing coyotes from a distance is a great and rewarding
experience! However, if you feel uncomfortable, use the following
techniques to maintain distance between you and coyotes:
o throw sticks,
o yell,
o wave your arms, and/or
o spray them with a hose.
These actions will help keep a den from being located nearby and will
help them maintain an appropriate level of fear of humans.
· At your home:
o Fence off outside animal enclosures and include a top. Coyotes can
jump a 6' high fence.
o Enclose the bottom of porches and maintain outdoor storage sheds
in a manner that prevents animals from using them as cover.
o Remove thick brush and weeds around homes that may harbor rodents.
The presence of rodents may attract coyotes.

For additional information on coyotes, contact the Mecklenburg County
Park and Recreation's Natural Resources Division at 704-432-4531.

Hendrick Automotive Group to help fund middle school sports

A $250,000 sponsorship agreement with Hendrick Automotive Group will
allow Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to offer a complete program of
middle school sports for the 2011-12 academic year.

Due to budget cuts, CMS had expected to reduce the number of middle
school sports offered in previous years. The Hendrick sponsorship,
combined with a contribution from an unidentified donor, provides the
remaining amount necessary to fund the full lineup of 13 sports at all
32 middle schools for more than 6,500 students participating in
athletics across the district.

"We believe that sports play a crucial role in students' education and
development," said CMS interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh.
"Hendrick Automotive Group's generous support is a great example of
how the support of local businesses can make an enormous difference in
the lives of children."

The sponsorship agreement designates as an official
sponsor of CMS athletics, which offers opportunities for more than
16,000 middle and high school students.

The agreement gives the company naming rights of statistics announced
during breaks at high school athletic events; recognition as a title
partner in announcements at the end of high school events; and signage
that will be displayed at middle and high school athletic events. CMS
and Hendrick Automotive Group will explore options for additional
promotions, and the arrangement will not change any existing
partnership agreements between individual schools' booster clubs and
other organizations.

CMS will use the sponsorship money to help pay coaching stipends, fees
for officials and transportation costs for middle school athletics.
Students must still pay some sports-participation fees, introduced by
CMS for all middle and high school student-athletes last year.

"As someone who participated in sports growing up and has kids who
played, I understand the impact those experiences can have on young
people," said Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group.

"The lessons athletics teaches – teamwork, communication, leadership,
dedication – are valuable, and they're carried forward into life and
business. We feel this sponsorship fits with our company values, and
we're proud to be associated with everyone who makes it possible for
these student-athletes to be successful."

Hendrick Automotive Group, headquartered in Charlotte, is one of the
nation's largest retail automotive operations. The company employs
about 7,000 people at more than 100 franchises in 12 states, including
12 dealerships in the Charlotte area.