Friday, December 28, 2012

What's Happening at Discovery Place: January 2013 Events & Activities

Discovery Place will be open New Year's Day;
Tuesday, January 1 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Strange Matter - NEW! Opens January 26 - What's materials science? You might call it the study of stuff! Just about everything you use every day - the shoes you wear, the dishes you eat from, the bike or skateboard you ride - it's all made of different kinds of stuff. Get ready for more than a dozen hands-on experiences and exhibits that give you a close encounter with the amazing world of modern materials and materials science. Through May 5.

nano - Don't miss this special limited mini exhibition that engages family audiences in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. Hands-on, interactive exhibits present the basics of nanoscience and engineering, introduce some real world applications, and explore the societal and ethical implications of this new technology. Explore progressively smaller magnetic materials —magnetite sand, iron powder, and ferrofluid, build a giant model of a carbon nanotube and more. nano was created by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Network) with support from the National Science Foundation.

Explore More Stuff Lab - January's theme is Robotics: Challenge yourself to program Lego NXT robots while exploring different forms of input and output. Control a robotic arm, have fun building a Robotix creation, and drive strange mechanized creations with simple servo controllers.

Siemens Science Day: (January 26; 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.) Siemens engineers and members of the non-destructive testing department will facilitate hands-on demonstrations of magnetism, infrared light and ultrasound.

Explore More Life Lab - January's theme is Infectious Disease and Inherited Disease: Have you ever wondered how germs spread? What do harmful bacteria do to our bodies, and what is a virus and how do our bodies react to them? Discover the unseen world of pathogenic microorganisms and how they can benefit and harm humans. Presented by Places of Hope.

**NEW this month in Explore More Life: A Focus Station featuring a blue tongued skink [Tiliqua scincoides], children's python, and cool invertebrates from Australia.

Microbiota Day: (January 12; 10:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m.) Use a microscope to safely get up close and personal with virus strains, which are genetic variants of a micro-organism, such as a virus, bacterium or fungus. Learn more about various types of contagious or communicable diseases and how they are spread from one person to another.

Explore More Collections Lab -Nature wears some of the most vibrant hues on the planet. Immerse yourself in a world of color with an all-new display of Museum collections and discover the many places color is found in nature. Many international cultures have even used natural inks and dyes to create colorful art based on environmental observations. Test your ability to decipher nature's colors at a special mystery station by studying the patterns of natural objects as they appear in black and white photographs.

National Australia Day: (January 12; 10:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m.) Learn about the official national day of Australia, celebrated there on January 26, and celebrate Australian culture, history and traditions. Learn more about aboriginal art and even make your own art to take home.

KidScience - KidScience is Discovery Place's early childhood exhibition where young children, ages 0-7, and their caregivers learn about science and math as they experiment, create and play together. January's theme is Alphabet Science: Learn the letter of the week and explore science wonders from A to Z. Monday-Friday; 11:30 a.m.-noon.


Discovery 3D Theatre - Hold on to your seat and your senses and get ready to experience Discovery 3D Theatre, the Museum's digital movie experience. With the help of 3D glasses, movies leap from the screen. Featured films are 15 - 20 minutes in length, show throughout the day and are free with Museum admission. Discovery 3D Theatre is currently showing:

The Majestic Lion
Climb aboard an open-air vehicle for a journey through diverse South African game reserves and come face-to-face with one of the continent's most intriguing creatures, the lion. This ultimate real-life adventure gives viewers a new appreciation for the beauty and grace of these wild animals and the importance of the many conservation efforts being made today to save them. Through November 2013.

The Little Prince
Relive the magic of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's endearing story in a fully immersive, spectacular journey as the Little Prince leaps from one fanciful universe to another in search of his beloved Rose, accompanied by his hilarious friend the Fox,. Fly alongside these fearless heroes as they scale instruments on the music planet, wake the friendly stone giant and dodge the metal claws of a ferocious dragon! Through June 1, 2013

**Movies in the Discovery 3D Theatre are free with Museum admission.

The Charlotte Observer IMAX® Dome Theatre - The Charlotte Observer IMAX® Dome Theatre is the largest screen in the Carolinas, spanning five stories high and 80 feet wide. The unique curvature of the IMAX Dome surrounds movie viewers with 15,000 watts of sound and light, creating the effect of being in the film! Note: There is an additional charge for IMAX films.

NEW! Flight of the Butterflies - January 18-Summer 2013

The amazing journey of the monarch butterfly takes flight on the giant screen this winter in a triumphant journey of perseverance based on a true story. The breathtaking new adventure tracks the voyage of hundreds of millions of butterflies between Canada and Mexico in a transfixing tale of scientific breakthrough, discovery, and one of the most incredible migrations on Earth. After debuting in New York and Los Angeles, Charlotte's Discovery Place will be one of only 50 exclusive institutions nationwide to show the film in 2013.

To The Arctic - Through April 18, 2013

An extraordinary journey to the top of the world, the documentary adventure To The Arctic tells the ultimate tale of survival. Narrated by Oscar® winner Meryl Streep, the film takes audiences on a never-before-experienced journey into the lives of a mother polar bear and her twin seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home.


Science After Dark: Improv, We'll Make it Up As We Go Along - January 12; 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Two premier Charlotte improv groups, the Chuckleheads and Synergismo, will present a night of laughter, creativity, and fun. In addition to a live performance, participants will have the opportunity to take part in improv exercises and games led by Chuckleheads, Synergismo, and Discovery Place performers.

The Chuckleheads perform classic improvisational theatre activities/games made famous on the television game show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and/or the national and international improvisational theatre troupes, "Second City," "The Groundlings," and "Upright Citizen's Brigade."

Sinergismo is a performing arts ensemble formed in 2003 at Winthrop University and is comprised of dancers, artists, poets, and musicians using collaboration as a means to produce performance. Sinergismo has performed at venues throughout the southeast including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Sumter Museum of Art, Southern Holiday, NC Dance Festival Saturday Series, Winthrop University, Gettys Art Center, the Democratic National Convention, Twenty-Two Art Gallery and the Charlotte Dance Festival.

Reservations are encouraged. Admission is $5 per person in advance. For more information or to make a reservation call 704.372-6261 x300 or email

E-book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines

The population of e-book readers is growing, according to a new report by Pew Internet. In the past year, the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans ages 16 and older to 23%. At the same time, the number of those who read printed books in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population ages 16 and older to 67%.

Overall, the number of book readers in late 2012 was 75% of the population ages 16 and older, a small and statistically insignificant decline from 78% in late 2011.

The move toward e-book reading coincides with an increase in ownership of electronic book reading devices. In all, the number of owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18% in late 2011 to 33% in late 2012.

Read or download the full report:

Charlotte Area Taxpayers Can Make These Five Moves to Decrease 2012 Tax Liability

Despite an uncertain tax code future, taxpayers can still lower their tax liability. H&R Block advises on five strategies taxpayers can use in December to lower their 2012 tax bills.

"While many may be focused on talk of the fiscal cliff and next tax season, it's important for taxpayers to know there are still tried-and-true tax strategies they can use in the final weeks of 2012 to reduce their tax bill," said Laura Johns, CPA at H&R Block.

As taxpayers watch to see if any eleventh hour changes to the tax code are made, they can make the following money-saving moves.

• 1. Take care of health needs to meet lower deduction threshold
Starting in 2013, in order for taxpayers under 65 to be able to claim medical expenses, they must exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income, an increase from 2012. Some impacted taxpayers may want to consider purchasing high-dollar items like eyeglasses and contact lenses so these eligible costs can be paid in 2012 to take advantage of the current 7.5-percent threshold.

• 2. Give to others to get a tax deduction
Taxpayers claimed nearly $180 billion in charitable donations (cash and non-cash) in 2010, and this time of year charitable functions and gift-giving take center stage.

It's important for taxpayers to remember for charitable donations to be tax-deductible, they must be made to qualified, tax-exempt organizations (IRS-approved nonprofit religious, educational or charitable groups), and claimed as itemized deductions on tax returns. Use the Salvation Army donation guide to estimate the value of used clothing and household items, and be sure to keep receipts and pictures as needed to substantiate donations.

• 3. Pay some 2013 bills early
Taxpayers may want to consider pre-paying expenses to ensure they take full advantage of some tax breaks, especially if they might expire this year.

Those who haven't met the $2,500 maximum of the American Opportunity Credit, which is set to expire Dec. 31, should consider paying spring college tuition now to get the maximum credit.

Also, taxpayers could pre-pay their mortgage payment due in early January or make an additional student loan payment to claim the highest possible interest deduction (up to $2,500) on their 2012 tax return.

• 4. Offset capital gains with capital losses
Those with a large net capital gain in 2012 could reduce their tax liability by selling stock before Dec. 31 if it would generate a loss. Also, capital losses don't just offset capital gains; if capital losses exceed capital gains, up to $3,000 of capital losses can be used to offset wages.

• 5. Maximize retirement plan contributions
Taxpayers who have not contributed the maximum to their 401(k) may consider increasing contributions for the remainder of the year; contributions are made pre-tax, which reduces taxable income and potentially the overall tax bill.

Also, taxpayers eligible to deduct IRA contributions can make traditional IRA contributions to decrease 2012 income until April 15, 2013, and thus reduce tax liability on 2012 tax returns.

"With so much uncertainty about what taxes will look like next year, taxpayers need to focus on what they can do right now to claim as many tax breaks to which they are entitled before they go away," Johns said.

For more information about last-minute ways to improve tax outlook, contact a local H&R Block tax professional. To find the nearest H&R Block office, visit or call 800-HRBLOCK.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Large Dilworth Sculpture Unveiled

Residents of Charlotte's historic Dilworth community celebrated the unveiling of a sculpture that commemorates the founding of Charlotte's first electric streetcar suburb in 1981. General contractor Andrew Roby, a local Dilworth business of 62 years, donated materials and labor to complete the site work and prepare the piece's foundation.

The sculpture, which is titled "Time Line," was created by Asheville artist Robert Winkler and sits on the island at the intersection of Romany and Dilworth Roads between Latta Parks. The piece recognizes the founding of the neighborhood's first electric streetcar line in 1891 by Edward Dilworth Latta.

"We are happy to partner with the Dilworth community to support the arts and help bring this project to fruition," said Trent Haston, chief executive officer of Andrew Roby. "This is a great way to commemorate the founding of Charlotte's first streetcar suburb."

Preserving an important part of Dilworth history, the project used the original train tracks from the neighborhood's old streetcar line, which were discovered along East Boulevard during a road improvement project in 2009.

When the tracks were found under East Blvd., the Dilworth Community Development Association (DCDA) organized an effort to preserve the abandoned tracks by creating the neighborhood's first public work of art. The sculpture was installed Nov. 30. To prepare the site, Andrew Roby dug the footings and poured the concrete foundation after coordinating with community leaders.

Andrew Roby, the premier custom residential contractor in the Carolinas, specializes in remodeling, kitchen and bath renovations, new homes and handyman services. The company was founded more than 60 years ago as a one-man remodeling firm and has grown into the largest in the Charlotte metro area with offices in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Boone and Atlantic Beach, N.C. With fine materials, unsurpassed craftsmanship and commitment to customer service, Andrew Roby produces one-of-a-kind homes that feature style, luxury and comfort. Visit

In photo: Asheville artist Robert Winkler and Heidi Weilbaecher, Andrew Roby Marketing and Business Development.

Men's Shelter of Charlotte to Receive Donation of 39 Mattresses

Leading specialty bedding retailer, Mattress Firm, is proud to support the Men's Shelter of Charlotte with a donation of 39 mattresses and 39 mattress protectors. The donation took place Thursday at 1210 North Tryon Street, Charlotte.

The Men's Shelter is dedicated to providing safe emergency shelter while working to end homelessness for each man. The organization's vision is to serve as the catalyst for systemic change to end homelessness in our community.

Mattress Firm embraces local community efforts and needs. Giving back is engrained in the company culture and takes place on a local and national level. "We are committed to making our communities better and allowing others to sleep happy through volunteer efforts and in-kind donations," said Steven Hoppensteadt, district manager for Mattress Firm in Charlotte. "The Men's Shelter of Charlotte has been helping homeless men for over 30 years. We are honored to support their mission by providing a safe and comfortable place to sleep."

Mattress Firm is very active in communities across the country. Since February, employees have given over 4200 hours of their personal time to organizations in their hometowns. This year, Mattress Firm will donate over $1 million in mattresses. This donation in Charlotte is valued at approximately $7,000.

About Mattress Firm
Houston-based Mattress Firm (NASDAQ: MFRM) is a high growth specialty retailer, recognized as one of the nation's leading specialty bedding companies, offering a broad selection of both traditional and specialty mattresses, bedding accessories and related products from leading manufacturers. With more than 1000 stores across 28 states, Mattress Firm has the largest geographic footprint in the United States among multi-brand mattress specialty retailers. Mattress Firm offers customers comfortable store environments, guarantees on price, comfort and service, and highly-trained sales professionals. More information

Lennar to Build Homes in Four New Charlotte Area Locations

Leading homebuilder Lennar has announced plans to develop four new communities in metropolitan Charlotte, bringing more than 400 new homes into the metro area's improving housing market.

Lennar will introduce one new community - Franklin Meadows in Matthews - and begin building in three existing neighborhoods: Pecan Hills in Mooresville, Waterford Hall in Kannapolis and Walnut Creek in Indian Land, S.C. The news comes on the heels of the builder's September announcement to add more than 700 homes in four other communities, demonstrating Lennar's surging momentum in the Queen City area.

"As the Charlotte housing market continues to show signs of recovery, we're committed to staying ahead of consumer demand by developing communities in the metro area's most desirable locations," said Jon Hardy, Lennar Charlotte division president. "Our strength as a leading national builder, with access to its own capital, means we can ensure consistent inventory levels to meet the needs of more homebuyers, and offer unsurpassed
value and quality."

Franklin Meadows will consist of 86 single-family homes ranging from 2,700 to 3,400 square feet, with prices from the $240s. Located off Weddington Road just minutes from the Providence Road exit off I-485, the community will feature two- and three-story homes with four to six bedrooms, all with easy access to the shopping, entertainment and other conveniences of one of south Charlotte's most popular suburbs.

Lennar will build the remaining 44 home sites at Pecan Hills, a popular neighborhood located off Shinnville Road just east of U.S. Highway 21 in Mooresville. Pre-sales are currently underway for Lennar's 2,200 to 3,200-square-foot single-family homes, which will feature four to five bedrooms and two and a half to three and a half baths. Prices will start in the low $200s, making Pecan Hills perfect for everyone from first-time homebuyers to move-up buyers seeking more room for a growing family.

At Waterford Hall, Lennar will build the final 233 single-family homes in the burgeoning Kannapolis community. Located off Shiloh Church Road along the meandering Rocky River, Waterford Hall features the low taxes and great schools of Cabarrus County, plus planned amenities including a swimming pool and cabana. Homes here will range from 2,700 to 4,200 square feet featuring two or three stories, four to six bedrooms and prices from the $250s.

Walnut Creek is Lennar's fourth community in the booming Indian Land, S.C., area. Plans call for 55 homes in Lennar's section of the multi-builder, master-planned neighborhood off Jim Wilson Road just on the South Carolina side of the border. The emphasis here is on affordability, with low South Carolina taxes and prices from the $170s for single-family homes with three to four bedrooms and ranging from 1,600 to 2,200 square feet. Planned amenities include more than 300 acres of green space and trails, plus a clubhouse, swimming pool, playground and a 60-acre county park boasting picnic areas, ballfields, and tennis and basketball courts.

All of these new Lennar homes are ENERGY STAR® 3.0 certified and feature Lennar's signature Everything's Included® program, which gives homeowners luxury features such as GE® stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and maple cabinetry as standard features in the home's base price, with no surprises or hidden costs. With other builders such features are typically offered as upgrades, often adding thousands of dollars to the cost of the home.

For more information on these or any other Lennar communities in metropolitan Charlotte, visit

About Lennar
Lennar Corp., founded in 1954 and headquartered in Miami, is one of the nation's leading builders of quality homes for all generations. Building homes in 18 states, Lennar offers affordable, move-up and retirement homes in communities that cater to a variety of lifestyles. For more information, visit

Belk Bowl helps CMS schools with technology

Three Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools won the Rocking the Belk Bowl contest and each received $25,000 for technology. Reedy Creek Elementary, Quail Hollow Middle and Hopewell High received their awards Wednesday, Dec. 5 during school assemblies.

To participate in the contest, students had to create educational and Belk-bowl themed designs on school rocks or bulletin boards. The contest ran from October to December.

An additional 20 schools which participated in the contest will receive a $1,000 technology grant.

The schools will use the $25,000 technology grant in various ways. Hopewell will purchase supplies for its digital art and fine arts classes. Reedy Creek will buy LCD projectors and iPads. Quail Hollow has not finalized its plans for the grant.

The winning schools also will also receive tickets to the 2012 Belk Bowl which will be held on Dec. 27. Their work will be featured on the Belk Bowl FanZone page, Belk's Facebook page, The View Belk's internal publication and during the Belk Bowl FanFest and game.

Photo attached:
· Hopewell students with check

Scott Clark Toyota Presents Two Local Charities with New Toyota Vehicles

Scott Clark Toyota will award new Toyotas to A Child's Place of Charlotte (ACP) and Blessed Assurance Adult Day & Health Care Services, Inc. as part of the 100 Cars for Good program, a major philanthropic initiative in which the automaker is giving away 100 cars to 100 nonprofits over the course of 100 days. The program is the first Toyota initiative that engages the public to determine how corporate charitable donations are awarded.

ACP will be given a new Toyota Sienna to help deliver donated supplies and essentials to children of homeless families and to transport them to much-needed afterschool activities. Blessed Assurance will receive a new Toyota Sienna Mobility Rampvan to help take senior and disabled adults to community events and specialized programs as well as supplement their existing transportation.

The dealership, located at 13000 East Independence Boulevard in Charlotte, N.C. will host the presentation of keys, which is open to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

"We are incredibly grateful to Toyota and all the supporters who voted for us on Facebook," said Annabelle Suddreth, ACP executive director. "It is still hard for us to believe that we won a Sienna minivan. Ninety percent of our homeless families are without a car, and this new minivan will enable us to provide them with transportation to buy clothing, school supplies and get to their healthcare appointments. The really cool part is that we'll also be able to take the children on fun and educational field trips. We simply can't thank Toyota enough."

In June 2012, Charlotte-Mecklenburg reported 4,922 homeless students enrolled in the county's public schools. Homelessness for children isn't just about where they lay their heads at night but where their heads are during the day while trying to focus on their studies. Founded in 1989, ACP works to eliminate the impact of homelessness on children and their education, reaching 2,228 students during the 2011/2012 school year. The nonprofit helps these underprivileged children have as normal a school experience as possible when life outside the classroom is strained, effecting attendance and progress.

"It is nearly impossible to imagine something more heartbreaking than a homeless child," said Chris Cady, general manager of Scott Clark Toyota. "The work A Child's Place accomplishes provides support and services that meet a critical need in this area. It is our sincere wish that the new Toyota Sienna helps the nonprofit in an immeasurable way."

Blessed Assurance was established through a compelling desire to provide its community's mentally and physically challenged adults with an alternative to long-term institutionalization. Directed by founders Nate and Vivian Huggins, Blessed Assurance provides participants structured faith-based and educational programs and services designed to promote their personal independence, social awareness and well-being. Reaching four counties, the nonprofit empowers caregivers to retain or pursue employment, provides a safe haven to special needs adults and comprehensively addresses hunger and healthcare needs within the population it serves.

"Thanks to God and the many people who voted for us who know the challenges we experience trying to provide transportation to our disabled veterans, seniors and special needs adults," Huggins said. "This minivan will have a direct and positive impact on our participants, their families and our community in many ways. We are very grateful to Toyota for being there when we needed them most. Our new Sienna is the vessel by which we can address the problems our senior and disabled adults face daily."

"Nate Huggins and his extraordinary team are doing remarkable work to improve and enrich the lives of local seniors and handicapped individuals," Cady said. "We trust the special purpose mobility van will make it easier to deliver the vital care and attention that the Blessed Assurance recipients need."

Scott Clark Toyota has been an active member of the community since 1972. The dealership has partnerships with charitable organizations including the Siskey Family YMCA, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Zenith Gymnastics Booster Club and other neighborhood athletic programs.

"At Toyota, we appreciate what a significant impact a new car can have for nonprofits in their work," said Michael Rouse, vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "All 100 of the winners of the 100 Cars for Good program are providing extraordinary and much-needed services, and we thank Scott Clark Toyota for its role in delivering both organizations' vehicles to help them with their important work."

The selection process began May 14, 2012 by profiling five finalists at Individual members of the public were able to vote for the nonprofit they believe can do the most good with a new vehicle. The charity with the most votes at the end of each day became the winner of one of six Toyota models. Additionally, each runner-up will receive a $1,000 cash grant from Toyota.

A six-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty will also be provided for each vehicle, compliments of Toyota Financial Services. To learn more about the100 Cars for Good program, please visit

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE: TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants. Toyota directly employs over 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.

Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen in the communities where it does business and believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results. Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety. Since 1991, Toyota has contributed over half a billion dollars to philanthropic programs in the U.S.

First-time homeless, others in need find holiday hope at the Charlotte Rescue Mission

For those who won't be home for the holidays this year - including people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time - Charlotte Rescue Mission and scores of similar organizations across North America are providing services that will make the season a little brighter. According to the 23nd annual Snapshot Survey, conducted recently by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), about one in three (34 percent) who ask for help on any given day say they're homeless for the very first time - an alarming statistic that seems to reflect the state of our economy and the ability of people to cope with their situations.

"We count it a blessing to be able to provide much-needed assistance to individuals and families right now," said Rev. Tony Marciano, Executive Director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. "The generosity of our community has meant that we have the resources to offer practical help and real hope during the holidays, a time of year that can be very difficult for people on any lower rung of the poverty ladder."

The survey, conducted among approximately 19,000 people served at Charlotte Rescue Mission and more than 100 other organizations, provides a clear picture of who is seeking assistance from rescue missions. One statistic that frames the situation is that nationally, 83 percent of the participants reported being homeless, as opposed to having accommodations elsewhere but seeking food, clothing, or other aid. Locally, 100 percent of men and 81 percent of women surveyed defined themselves as homeless.

Among those who were homeless, 26 percent across North America had experienced homelessness once previously, 17 percent had been without a home twice in the past, and 22 percent reported being homeless three or more times before arriving at a mission. Of the people Charlotte Rescue Mission surveyed, 41 percent of men and 19 percent of women told the staff they had not been homeless in the past, 22 percent of men and 31 percent of women said they had been in their situation once previously, 2 percent of men and 19 percent of women had experienced homelessness twice before, and 34 percent of men and 31 percent of women had gone three or more times without a place to call home.

For many people in the midst of homelessness, it is a long-term problem. Of those across North America who reported they were homeless, 27 percent (17 percent of men and 46 percent of women locally) had been in their situation for more than a year. Fewer (20 percent) had been in need of a home for six months to a year (12 percent of men and 0 percent of women locally); 24 percent (39 percent of men and 54 percent of women locally) have been homeless for three to six months. About a third (30 percent) - and 31 percent of men and 0 percent of women at Charlotte Rescue Mission - said they had been homeless fewer than three months.

The study shows that the most prevalent homeless population is single individuals (81 percent of the total surveyed, and 33 percent of men and 25 percent of women surveyed at Charlotte Rescue Mission). The North American statistics also show that women with children are the most common family unit to visit missions for help, representing 51 percent of total families.

The Snapshot Survey also revealed that one in four people (50 percent of men and 100 percent of women at Charlotte Rescue Mission) who seek aid at rescue missions have experienced physical violence within the past year. This appears to be the beginning of a trend that AGRM has been following in recent years - one that is very troubling. Again, it could reflect people's ability to cope with their economic situations.

Charlotte Rescue Mission sees those who are 36-46 years old most often. At rescue missions across North America, most people served (81 percent and 100 percent locally) say they prefer a mission with a spiritual emphasis.
About Charlotte Rescue Mission

The Charlotte Rescue mission provides a free 90-day Christian residential program for men and women who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and are predominantly homeless. For more information, visit or call 704-333-HOPE.

About Association for Gospel Rescue Missions

Founded in 1913, the Colorado Springs-based AGRM is North America's oldest and largest network of independent crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers, offering radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. With approximately 275 member missions, AGRM exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused and addicted, and to accelerate quality and effectiveness in member missions. For more information, visit or call (800) 4RESCUE.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr. Heath Morrison launches plan to strengthen CMS

Dr. Heath E. Morrison announced eight key goals to move Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools forward at a Nov. 26 event marking his first 100 days as superintendent.

In a presentation titled The Way Forward, Dr. Morrison emphasized the importance of community participation in strengthening CMS, including the creation of 22 task forces to identify ways to achieve the eight key goals.

"As a district and as a community, we recognize that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has established a very strong foundation but is not yet great," he said. "We want to create the schools we need for the future, not the schools we remember from the past."

Dr. Morrison said that he and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education were committed to improving every school and providing more choices for parents and students.

"We want our local schools to be schools of choice," he said. "Every single school in CMS needs to be a school that we can be proud of. These goals will help us make that happen."

The eight goals are:
· Goal 1: Accelerate academic achievement for every child and close achievement gaps so all students graduate from CMS college- or career-ready.
· Goal 2: Ensure an effective teacher in every class is led by an effective principal in every school served by quality support staff, by supporting the professional development of all employees.
· Goal 3: Cultivate innovative partnerships with parents/caregivers and the community to provide a sustainable system of wraparound support for all children.
· Goal 4: Continuously nurture a self-renewing culture of high engagement, customer service and cultural competency.
· Goal 5: Establish a comprehensive performance-management approach that ensures data-informed and evidence-based decision-making for students, schools and the district as a whole.
· Goal 6: Strengthen and expand our portfolio of educational choices for students to foster creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
· Goal 7: Increase technology integration to support inspired learning and teaching.
· Goal 8: Communicate proactively and purposefully to strengthen public trust and establish CMS as the preferred K-12 choice.

CMS will begin work on the goals immediately, Dr. Morrison said. Some parts of the goals will take time and planning to achieve; others can begin sooner. He also emphasized the need for community engagement as CMS begins the work.

"We want community and employee input into the decisions we will make to further these goals," Dr. Morrison said. "So we are convening the 22 task forces with CMS staff, parents and the community. Each task force will look at one component of a goal and how best to achieve it."

Rigorous curriculum is a key component in making sure all students graduate with a meaningful diploma, he said. CMS also needs exceptional leadership in classrooms and in schools, as well as a high level of parent involvement.

"Our brand is not what we say it is – it's what people say about us," he said. "We want CMS to be the preferred K-12 option for parents and we're going to strengthen our schools to make that happen. There is a lot of amazing work that is being done in our schools every day, and we want to build on that foundation to move CMS from good to great."

Dr. Morrison said that the future of CMS is an important factor in the economic development of the larger Charlotte-Mecklenburg region.

"CMS is part of the economic engine that fuels our region," he said. He pointed to research showing that tomorrow's workers will need to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial to succeed.

Workforce analyses have shown that:
· The need for complex communication skills has increased 14 percent
· The need for expert thinking and problem-solving has increased eight percent.
At the same time, he said, those analyses also show that the demand for other skills has declined:
· Routine manual skills: demand decreased three percent
· Non-routine manual skills: demand decreased five percent
· Routine cognitive skills: demand decreased eight percent

"To prepare our students for tomorrow, our schools will have to change," he said. "Great public schools are constantly improving and changing – and that is what CMS needs to do."

Your Input Is Needed for New City Manager Survey

Residents of the City of Charlotte are being encouraged to participate in an online survey beginning today to identify the most important characteristics for Charlotte's new City Manager.

The Charlotte City Council has retained the services of the Waters Consulting Group to assist them with the recruitment and selection process. Part of the firm's responsibilities is the development of a profile that indentifies the highest priority issues, important professional experience and expertise, and management/leadership characteristics for the new City Manager. Survey comments are anonymous, confidential, and considered public information. They will be provided directly to The Waters Group through the online survey link. The survey is available in both English and Spanish, and will remain operational until 6:00 p.m. (EST) Friday, December 7.

To participate in the survey, click on

The City of Charlotte operates with a Council-Manager form of government. The City Manager has the following administrative and management responsibilities:
· assuring the effective and efficient operation of all City departments (Police, Fire, Utilities, Solid Waste Services, Aviation, Transportation, Transit, Engineering, Planning, Neighborhood Development, Business Support Services, Finance, Budget, Human Resources);
· attending City Council meetings and preparing recommendations for consideration by Council;
· making reports to the City Council about the City and keeping the City Council fully advised of the City's financial condition and its future financial needs;
· appointing all department heads and employees of the City except those provided in the City Charter to be appointed by the City Council (City Attorney and City Clerk)

Important dates in the City Manager recruitment process:
November 27-December 7: City Manager characteristics survey period
December 17: Candidate profile based on survey input finalized and approved by the City Council
December 18-January 18: Timeframe to submit applications
January 28: Waters Group makes recommendations to Mayor and Council on candidates to interview.
Mid-February: Mayor and City Council conduct interviews; choose 2-3 finalists.

The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 700,000 residents.
The City's focus areas are Housing and Neighborhood Development, Community Safety, Transportation, Economic Development and the Environment.
For the latest news about city government, visit the Citywide Newsroom at
From our website, you can sign up to receive email updates on City topics that interest you through the Notify Me service.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Help in BI-LO's Search for Owner of 70 Year Old Ring

About a year ago a ring was found in the BI-LO on Pineville-Matthews Road. It is a 14 karat gold band with an inscription from a husband to his wife, dated to their wedding day: what appears to be 10/29/44 or 10/28/44 – nearly 70 years ago. Proper procedures were followed in an effort to identity the owner - signs were posted in the store for six months and a Craigslist ad was posted - but the person to whom the ring belongs was never identified. A full year has passed and the owner has not stepped forward, so we are taking the search to the next level to reunite this ring with its owner.

BI-LO would love your help finding the owners of the missing ring so that another wedding anniversary does not pass without the owner or owner's family having this sentimental ring back in their hands. A photo of the ring is included here. Those who wish to claim the ring may call (704) 804-4225 to speak with Rodney Towery and describe the inscription.

Science After Dark at Discovery Place: Adults-Only Series Launches Dec. 4

Don't be afraid of the dark! Discovery Place will shine the light on inquiry and ideas during a new series of "social" science for adults only. Science After Dark events will explore contemporary topics using the lens of science and the hands of the participants. Part intrigue and part fun, Science After Dark offers the intellectually curious adult crowd a new mix of diverse learning opportunities in a relaxed social atmosphere.

"The spirit of scientific inquiry is in each of us," said Robert Corbin, vice president, Learning Experiences, Discovery Place. "Even as adults, we hunger to know more about the how and why of the world we live in. Any time we get the chance to dabble and explore, even as grown-ups, we satisfy our innate curiosity and expand our common understanding."

Science After Dark topics will include:
· Game Night (December 4, 2012): Join Spandex City, Queen City Chess Club, UNCC and Merely Players to explore some favorite pastimes such as video games, board games, trivia and more, from an adult point of view, and discover the science behind playing around. (6:00–8:00 p.m.)
· Improv (January 12, 2013): Two premier Charlotte improv groups, the Chuckleheads and Synergismo, will present a night of laughter, creativity and fun. Attendees will take part in improv exercises and games. (6:00–9:00 p.m.)
· The Wonder of Food & Drink (February 5, 2013): An evening of presentations will focus on sustainability, plus information on molecular gastronomy and brewing science. (6:00–9:00 p.m.)
· NanoScience and Society (March 5, 2013): Nanotechnology is creating a dizzying array of new materials and manufacturing possibilities which will profoundly impact our economy, environment and society. Join Thomas Schmedake, Ph.D., of UNCC's chemistry department and other educators to discuss the latest in the nanotechnology and what it holds for the future. (6:00–9:00 p.m.)
· Astronomy (April 17, 2013): Spend an evening with Discovery Place and Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club observing stars and planets. The evening will include an astronomy talk by Jim Craig, director of the James H. Lynn Planetarium at Schiele Museum of Natural History.(7:30–9:30 p.m.)

All Science After Dark events will be held at Discovery Place after the Museum closes to the public and will include light snacks and beverages featuring various North Carolina breweries. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online by calling 704.372.6261 x300. Admission is $5 per person in advance or $10 at the door. Parking is available in the Museum's Parking Deck; the Carol Grotnes Belk Deck located at Church and Sixth Streets. For additional information about the series or any individual Science After Dark event, please call 704.372.6261 x300 or email

About Discovery Place
One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that engage people in the active exploration of science and nature. The Museum brings relevant, contemporary science to life through groundbreaking exhibitions, interactive educational programming and hands-on activities. Nearly a half-million people from all over the United States engage with Discovery Place and its IMAX®Dome Theatre each year.

Discovery Place is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum's parking deck – the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex – at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place, call 704.372.6261 x300, or connect with Discovery Place on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Discovery Place Inc. owns and operates Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum and Discovery Place KIDS and is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.

Recycling Pickup Announces Thanksgiving Collection Schedule

The City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services will not collect garbage, recyclables, yard waste or bulky items on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22. Residents who normally receive service on Thursday will be serviced on Friday, November 23. Residents who normally receive service on Friday will be serviced on Saturday, November 24.
With autumn in full swing, residents are reminded to properly prepare leaves and other yard waste for collection. A few tips include:
· Place leaves in untied plastic bags or uncovered trash cans (not City-issued rollout carts). Leaves may also be placed in biodegradable paper bags for collection
· Cut limbs, logs and brush to no more than 5 feet in length and 4 inches in diameter
· Separate yard waste into piles small enough for one person to handle.
After items are properly prepared, place them curbside no later than 6:30 am on your scheduled collection day. Please do not block the sidewalk with collection items. For more information, visit or call 311.

Charlotte Area's Only Functioning Covered Bridge and Community Sets Date for Light Up Event

MillBridge, a master-planned community in South Charlotte, will expand the tradition it began last year with the lighting of the area's only functioning covered bridge. Presented as a surprise gift last year by the community's developer, Landeavor, to its residents during a Christmas party, this year the event will be open to the greater Waxhaw-area community and will include the entire Community House amenity, model home park and a luminary-lined journey through MillBridge's neighborhood streets.

More than 200 community members will celebrate the beginning of the holiday season by decorating their homes and placing luminaries along their winding sidewalks as the community's amenities – the covered bridge, resident club, airnasium, nostalgic bus stop and model homes will light-up the holiday sky. On Friday, December 7 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., MillBridge resident Rachel Morgan Sawhook will serenade attendees with seasonal favorites at the covered bridge's entrance and old-fashioned holiday gifts will be shared to spread holiday cheer. The Lighting of the Bridge ceremony will take place at 6:00 p.m. and all families will have an opportunity to take photos by the Christmas tree.

"MillBridge is a place where family and friends are connected," said Garner. "Lighting our community, and inviting the public to join us for Light Up MillBridge is our way of welcoming them to this authentic neighborhood. It's our second year and we hope it's a new holiday tradition that becomes a standard on busy holiday calendars throughout the years to come."

Attachment: Pictures from last year's Light Up MillBridge are available in 150DPI for promotion of the 2012 event.

About MillBridge: Located in historic Waxhaw, N.C., MillBridge is a 920-acre master-planned community that features the Charlotte areas only functioning covered bridge. The inclusive, resident-focused community offers pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, parks, walking and biking trails, common squares and greenways to the 2,000 residents who will call MillBridge home. The adventure-filled Community House, spanning 9,000 sq. ft. indoors, and more than 60 acres outdoors, offers an aquatic center with three pools, airnasium with full basketball court, fitness center, movie theater and special event facilities.

About the Town of Waxhaw, N.C.: Founded in the 1770's and named in honor of the Indian tribe that once inhabited its land, Waxhaw gained prosperity through commerce that developed with the introduction of the railroad and cotton farming businesses. Its close proximity to Charlotte provides the perfect blend of small town charm and big city convenience. The national historic district covers more than 700 acres and 97 buildings of documented significance. With this heritage, Waxhaw's residents pay tribute to its past as it plans for a fulfilling future of diversity, quality growth and cooperative spirit. For more information, visit:

Easter Seals UCP Presents Moonlight and Martinis - December 13

Easter Seals UCP is proud to present a fun, new event that promises to take you back to the night club evenings from the 1960's. Tickets are now on sale for this festive fundraiser - Moonlight and Martinis - which takes place on Thursday, December 13, from 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. at CenterStage at NoDa (2135 North Davidson Street). Guests can expect to hear amazing live music (think Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett), shop incredible silent auction items, enjoy fantastic food and of course, taste themed martinis.

Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple and can be purchased online at All proceeds benefit Easter Seals UCP's lifelong programs and services that provide support, care and hope to children and adults living with disabilities and mental health challenges in the Charlotte metro community.

Guests are encouraged to wear their best 1960's attire, but business attire is appropriate.

For more information, contact Brooke Porter at (704) 566-6040.

About Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia
Easter Seals UCP is a lifelong partner to people managing disabilities and mental health challenges. Established in 1945, our nonprofit serves more than 20,000 individuals and their families across North Carolina and Virginia through an array of community-based services and solutions. We light the runway, helping people find their own voices, make their own choices, and discover innovative solutions to their challenges. For more information on Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia, please visit

Community invited to spend Thanksgiving Day at the Charlotte Rescue Mission

The Charlotte Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Day festivities is more than a mid-day meal. It is a full day of opportunities to bring hope to others in our community.

"We make coming to the Rescue Mission on Thanksgiving as special as going to your grandmother's house" says Rev. Tony Marciano, Executive Director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

It all begins bright and early with a hot breakfast served from 6:00am–7:30am. "We will be having a "breakfast buffet with a twist," says Marciano. "Our guests will be served by volunteer waiters."

Our traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings, including our delicious homemade desserts, served between 11:30 and 2:30pm. There will be movies shown during the day. Cell phones will be available for guests to use.

"In addition, our dinner guests will be treated like royalty" says Marciano. "Volunteers will be dressed in white shirts, black pants or skirts to resemble fine dining wait staff. Our guests will be served with heaping portions of food on china, while using silverware, all on a table cloth. There will also be a cloth napkin, folded in a fan, coming from the glass. It resembles a wedding reception."

The Charlotte Rescue Mission is not only serving the homeless, its doors will be open to anyone who wants to celebrate Thanksgiving in a family setting.

What: Community invited Thanksgiving Day at the Charlotte Rescue Mission
When: Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 22 from 6:00am – 2:30pm
Who: Community guests will use donated cell phone service
Where: Charlotte Rescue Mission - 907 West 1st Street. (Diagonally opposite the Carolina Panthers practice fields). Enter through the glassed in security desk at the 2nd building on the left.
Thanksgiving Day schedule--

6:00-7:30am Hot breakfast ordering off a menu
6:00am-3:00pm Movies are shown all day
9am-3pm Cell phones are available to call home
11:30am Mid-day Thanksgiving dinner

About Charlotte Rescue Mission
The Charlotte Rescue mission provides a free 90-day Christian residential program for men and women who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and are predominately homeless.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday gift ideas from Mint Museum Shops

Forget mall gifts - Mint Museum Shops offer a variety of one-of-a-kind finds. The holiday gift hunt is easy - just stop at one of the two convenient museum locations: Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street, or Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road.

"The Mint Museum offer a memorable shopping experience, and gift-givers have the added benefit of knowing they are supporting a treasured local cultural institution with their purchases," said Sandy Fisher, manager and buyer for retail operations at the Mint. Museum members receive 10 percent off all purchases over $10 at the Museum Shops.

Here are some recommendations for this holiday season's finds.

For the bibliophiles:

"One Work"
This groundbreaking new book combining art and scholarship was recently published by The Mint Museum in partnership with Yale University Press. The book, a work of art in itself, includes a hanging hook embedded in its cover and two pullout accordion folds depicting the monumental four-story work by Sheila Hicks in the atrium of Mint Museum Uptown, Mega Footprint Near the Hutch (May I Have this Dance?). ($40)

For the Decorators:

"The Christmas Bell"

The Mint's special edition Christmas ornament for 2012 is handmade by Rebecca Plummer and Jon Ellenbogen of Barking Spider Pottery. It was chosen to commemorate the painting The Christmas Bell (1860) by John Ferguson Weir. This work is part of the special exhibition The Weir Family, 1920-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art, on view through January 20 at Mint Museum Uptown. Barking Spider Pottery has operated in the mountains of North Carolina for over 35 years. Each of their beautiful, lightweight ornaments is unique. This ornament is certain to be the perfect addition to any tree! ($19.95)

Queen Charlotte's Crown Ornament

This design is adapted from the crown decorating the frame of the coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte, the city's namesake. ($15)

Painted Wooden Reindeer

These reindeer come in two sizes and lay flat for storage. This item sells out very quickly! ($9.50 to $12.50)

For the Little Ones:

Wooden Toy Race Car

This classic toy for tots is especially popular and is made by Dick Nease of Olde Towne Woodworks from Gore, VA. ($10.50)

For the Fashionistas:

The Little Sequined Bag:

This bag, one of many beaded items that are hot sellers in conjunction with the Mint Museum Randolph fashion exhibition And the Bead Goes On (recently extended to March 31, 2013), is an essential addition to any woman's closet! ($12.50)


Gift of membership
Give a gift that lasts all year long - and provides two gifts for the price of one! For every gift membership to The Mint Museum purchased by a member of the public before December 31, the Mint will give another membership to a family identified by Thompson Child & Family Focus, a local organization serving families in need. This will enable many families to participate in the Mint's educational programming who may not have otherwise had the opportunity. Membership brings unlimited admission to both Mint locations all year long, plus free or discounted admission to many programs and classes, invitations to members-only events, discounts at local businesses and much more! Memberships may be purchased at

And this is just the beginning! High-res images of all items are available on request.


As the oldest art museum in North Carolina, with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, groundbreaking exhibitions, and riveting educational programs. The Mint Museum is a non-profit, visual arts institution comprised of two dynamic facilities: Mint Museum Uptown and Mint Museum Randolph.

Located in what was the original branch of the United States Mint, Mint Museum Randolph opened in 1936 in Charlotte's Eastover neighborhood as the state's first art museum. Today, in a beautiful park setting, intimate galleries invite visitors to engage with the art of the ancient Americas, ceramics and decorative arts, fashion, European and African art, among other collections. Resources include a reference library with over 18,000 volumes, a theater featuring lectures and performances, and a museum shop offering merchandise that complements both the permanent collection and special exhibitions.

Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, as well as outstanding collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston, the five-story, 145,000-square-foot facility combines inspiring architecture with cutting-edge exhibitions to provide visitors with unparalleled educational and cultural experiences. Located in the heart of Charlotte's burgeoning center city, Mint Museum Uptown is an integral part of the Levine Center for the Arts, a cultural campus that includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Duke Energy Center. Mint Museum Uptown also features a wide range of visitor amenities, including the 240-seat James B. Duke Auditorium, the Lewis Family Gallery, art studios, a restaurant, and a museum shop. For more information, visit the NEW

8th Annual Thunder Road Marathon Races in Charlotte - Nov. 17

The 8th Annual Thunder Road Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Presbyterian Orthopaedic Hospital 5K will be run Saturday, Nov. 17 (rain or shine)
Bag Check: 6:00-7:30AM
Full/Half-Marathon begin at 7:45AM
5K begins at 8:15AM
The Start Line will be on Tryon Street at 1st street/Levine Museum Avenue of Arts intersection. (see media parking info below)
The Finish Line/Victory Lane Area will be at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and S. Davidson Street (see media parking info below)

Publix Thunder Road Marathon Health & Wellness Expo
Friday, Nov. 16
10:00AM – 9:00PM
(Vendor Expo, Packet Pick-up and Registration)
*No race-day registration available

EXPO: The Blake Hotel
555 South McDowell Street
Charlotte, N.C. 28204

· Please check in via phone with Jenni Walker (704-649-6571)
· Any media who want to park by the start or finish lines, or along the course need to print out the attached car pass and put it in their car or media vehicle.
· Media Parking by the Start Line will be located on Levine Museum Avenue of the Arts – please enter from S. Church Street. The attached Thunder Road media pass is required.
· Thunder Road staff will be available after 5:45AM for any on-site media interviews by the start-line area. Please contact Jenni Walker (704-649-6571) to set up an interview in advance.
· Media Parking at First Baptist Church parking lot off of Caldwell Street (this parking lot is NOT open to the public and is only available for Thunder Road staff, vendors and media). For any parking questions contact Jenni Walker at 704-649-6571.

• City Proclamation to be presented by Councilman Andy Dulin at 7:30AM at Start Line
· Fan Zones with entertainment throughout the course:
· 2012 Neighborhood Challenge: Neighborhood Associations along the course will be competing for two $500 cash prizes. Click here or visit for a listing of the participating neighborhoods.
· Thunder Road Stock Car courtesy of Comp-Cal to start race and then park a finish line for photo-op backdrop.
· Victory Lane Highlights:
o Buffalo Wild Wings Patio Celebration
o Chick-fil-A VIP Area
o Entertainment
o Massage Garage
o Awards
· Photo and b-roll opportunities
· Post-race interviews: Winners, runners with inspirational stories, event staff

For a list of road closures, visit Some intersections will be closing at 3PM Friday, Nov. 16 and others will begin at 5AM Saturday, Nov. 17.

Detailed course maps can be found at The Half Marathon is limited to three (3) hours and the Marathon is limited to six (6) hours.

About Thunder Road Marathon
The Thunder Road Marathon is the second largest marathon in the Carolinas and unites the excitement of road racing, music, family-friendly entertainment and the Charlotte region's rich heritage of stock car racing. Featuring a marathon, half-marathon and 5K run, the event draws participants from 48 different states and Canada. In its seven-year history, the race has raised more than $250,000 for local charities. For more information or to register or volunteer for the 8th Annual Thunder Road Marathon, zoom to

Stayed connected with Thunder Road Marathon on Facebook at and Twitter at @ThunderRoadCLT.

Charlotte-Meck Schools releases audits and employee survey

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has received the results of an all-employee engagement survey and three audits commissioned by Superintendent Heath Morrison as part of his 100-day entry plan. The employee engagement survey, conducted in October by the consulting firm K12 Insight, found that 76 percent of CMS employees were engaged or highly engaged.

"This survey highlights that the majority of our employees are fully committed to CMS and the work we must do together in service to children," said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent. "But it also says that we have some significant work to do in reaching the remaining 24 percent. For CMS to fully succeed in serving children, every employee must be personally and professionally engaged. We are committed to advancing this work in partnership with our employees." The survey was designed with input from nearly 200 CMS employees, and explored employee sentiment in seven areas: shared values, work environment, career growth and training, leadership, quality service, communication and feedback/recognition.

The three audits were also conducted by independent outside groups to inform future plans to strengthen the district. A district-wide organizational audit was performed by a team from the Council of the Great City Schools, a national organization representing America's largest urban districts. The audit recommended restructuring CMS to create more efficient, streamlined workflow among departments, and offered several recommendations for specific realignment of executive departments.

"Reshaping the structure of CMS is a critical task in making the district more effective," Dr. Morrison said. "We plan to begin the work with an initial reorganization, which will be followed by additional reshaping of our executive and senior staff during 2013. This is part of a cycle of continuous improvement that will keep us flexible and responsive to our students, families, schools and employees."

A second audit, conducted by Drive West Communications, focused on CMS' communications structure, procedures and performance district-wide. Audit recommendations included restructuring the communications department to enable more proactive and strategic communications planning, a greater emphasis on sharing positive news stories about CMS quickly and effectively, and an increased focus on making information about district-wide initiatives and decision-making more transparent both within CMS and externally.

"Transparency is essential in building public and employee trust," Dr. Morrison said. "There are multiple ways in which we can do this better and we will begin this work immediately. Our district has many good things going on, and we want to do a better job of proactively sharing those stories as well as updates on district initiatives so the public as well as our employees know what's going on."

The third audit examined the district's human resources department and was conducted by AronsConsulting LLC. That audit found that the existing HR structure does not serve schools well and made multiple recommendations to streamline the processes for identifying strong candidates, hiring them and retaining them. There were also recommendations about how to streamline the process for identifying and removing unsuccessful teachers and other employees, as well as suggestions for staffing teaching vacancies, especially hard-to-staff jobs, more efficiently with an early-contract process.

"Finding and keeping great teachers, principals and support staff is one of our most important responsibilities as a district," Dr. Morrison said. "We need to be as streamlined and efficient as possible. We have a lot of work to do in this area, and we will make progress."

The district will continue to use the findings from the three audits and the employee engagement survey to inform decisions in the coming months. More information on priorities and plans will be announced after Dr. Morrison's 100th day at an event Nov. 26, and district work in areas identified as needing improvement will continue throughout the school year.

CPCC recognized as a leader in the national student completion movement

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) was recognized as a leader in the national student completion movement by Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit leading the nation's most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success and completion. CPCC, one of 14 institutions designated as a 2012 Leader College, was recognized for demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments on key student achievement indicators, including student persistence and completion. The 14 new Leader Colleges are:

· Bay College<> (Escanaba, MI)

· Central Piedmont Community College<> (Charlotte, NC)

· Community College of Baltimore County<> (Baltimore, MD)

· College of the Ouachitas<> (Malvern, AR)

· Davidson County Community College<> (Lexington, NC)

· Elgin Community College<> (Elgin, IL)

· Greenville Technical College<> (Greenville, SC)

· Lone Star College System<> (The Woodlands, TX)

· National Park Community College<> (Hot Springs, AR)

· Springfield Technical Community College<> (Springfield, MA)

· Temple College<> (Temple, TX)

· Texarkana College<> (Texarkana, TX)

· Trident Technical College<> (North Charleston, SC)

· University of Hawai'i Community Colleges<> (Honolulu, HI)*

"CPCC is committed to creating an engaged college that is focused on student success and completion," said Dr. Tony Zeiss, president of CPCC. "Our many departments work together each day to implement and create innovative strategies, initiatives and interventions that have produced and sustained improved student success across all areas of the College."

Leader Colleges are demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement<> by raising persistence and graduation rates and closing achievement gaps. Each college approaches the work differently, but with the guidance of the model and Achieving theDream Coaches, colleges implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success. Examples include: college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive and individualized advising.
"We are proud of CPCC for earning this respected distinction," said Rachel Singer, Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations and Applied Research. CPCC has raised the bar on promising practices that will impact policies to help more students succeed. They deserve recognition for their dedication to the student success movement."

In order to be eligible for Leader College distinction, colleges must demonstrate commitment to and progress on the principles and values of Achieving the Dream: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement all guided by a student-centered vision focused on equity and excellence. Additionally, each Leader College has successfully implemented at least one student success intervention that is advancing student outcomes.
These colleges have identified workable solutions to issues such as enhancing the experience of first-year students, improving developmental education, closing achievement gaps, strengthening academic and personal advising for students in need of additional support, strengthening links to high schools and four-year institutions to strengthen student preparation and advancement, and increasing retention, persistence rates, and the number of certificate and degree recipients. To learn more about LeaderColleges, visit<>.
Achieving the Dream, Inc.
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensivenon-governmental reform network for student success and completion in higher education history. With nearly 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. To learn more, visit<file:///C:\Users\llewis\Downloads\>.

Central Piedmont Community College

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering nearly 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporatetraining, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational andtraining strategies.

Bank of America Merchant Services Announces Mobile Pay on Demand Solution for Small Businesses

Bank of America Merchant Services, the No. 1-rated electronic payments processor in the U.S.1, has announced the upcoming release of Mobile Pay on Demand. Available on December 3, Mobile Pay on Demand is a new solution designed specifically for small businesses that will turn a client's smartphone or iPad into a mobile point-of-sale terminal. Mobile Pay on Demand will include a free mobile app, free secure card reader, no monthly or annual fees and expanded functionality to meet the needs of small business owners nationwide. Customers can find more information about the product and sign up at [4].

"In today's economic environment, small businesses are looking for secure, easy and portable ways to confidently accept payments beyond cash, and promote their business to a broader customer base," said Tom Bell, chief executive officer, Bank of America Merchant Services. "With Mobile Pay on Demand, we are making it even easier for small business owners to accept secure payments anywhere. The product is fully integrated with existing Bank of America accounts and services, allowing deposits made into a Bank of America small business checking account to be processed as soon as the next business day."

As part of a fully integrated suite of products and services, merchants who sign up for Mobile Pay on Demand can also access BankAmeriDeals and iDeals Marketing Platform Pro. The two services are designed to connect merchants with new and existing customers through promotional offers, online coupons and deals.

"We believe we can meet the combined merchant needs of accepting payments and marketing to clients," said Bell. "Merchants want simple, holistic, integrated solutions that allow them to better serve their own customers in addition to the secure, fast processing that meets their own business needs."

Features of Mobile Pay on Demand include:

• A free mobile app and free secure card reader for smartphones and iPads developed with First Data – a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing - enabling credit card acceptance. The card reader is specially designed to reduce transaction mis-swipes.
• Next-day access to funds through a Bank of America checking account, even when payments are accepted outside of normal business hours2.
• Encryption on every credit card transaction, so customers can be confident their information will be secure.
• Easy self-sign-up, with approval in as little as one hour, with no monthly, annual or set-up fees.
• Pricing includes 2.7 percent swiped3, 3.5 percent plus15¢ keyed4 for Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Also includes transaction processing support AMEX One Point at competitive rates5.
• Integrated redemption of card based offers through the iDeals Marketing Platform allowing merchants to reach more customers.
"Mobile Pay on Demand provides an easy-to-use, secure solution for small businesses that have a need for mobile merchant services," said Robb Hilson, Small Business executive, Bank of America. "Offering a mobile point-of-sale solution for our customers is one more way Bank of America is demonstrating its commitment to serving the needs of small businesses."

With BankAmeriDeals, merchants are able to serve offers to Bank of America online banking and mobile banking customers, who can access the offers for free. Since its launch earlier this year, BankAmeriDeals has served more than 400 million offers, and 2,800 merchants nationwide now participate in the program, including discount department stores, fast food chains and casual dining restaurants.

Also, merchants who sign up and are approved for Mobile Pay on Demand between December 3 and year-end will receive a free, one-year subscription to the iDeals Marketing Platform Pro – a $200 value6. iDeals Marketing Platform is an online marketing tool kit that helps business owners reach customers through promotional offers, coupons and events.

Bank of America's commitment to small businesses

Bank of America has a long history of serving the small business community – providing clients not only with customized product solutions but also with the personal touch of small business experts and specialists. Bank of America is in the final stages of hiring approximately 1,000 small business bankers across the country. These bankers will serve as a dedicated resource for small business owners, helping them assess their companies' deposit, credit and cash management needs. Bank of America continues to actively lend to small businesses across the U.S. Through September of this year, Bank of America extended more than $6.2 billion in new credit to small businesses – an increase of 26 percent over the same period last year. In addition, combined new and renewal small business lending totaled $14.9 billion.

1 Based on bankcard, other credit, and PIN debit sales volume and transactions. Per The Nilson Report, March 2012, Issue 990.

2 After deposit of transactions and only when you have a Bank of America business checking account. Only valid on Visa®, MasterCard® and Discover® transactions. Exceptions may apply.

3 Card-swiped rate applies to swiped Visa, MasterCard, or Discover network transactions (also sometimes referred to as card present transactions) and requires the Mobile Pay card reader. Card-swiped transactions will be listed as "Qualified" on your merchant agreement and statement.

4 Keyed rate will be charged on all manually keyed Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Network transactions that have verified addresses. Keyed transaction will be listed as "Non Qualified" on your merchant application.

5 American Express rates range from 2.30% to 3.50% + $0.00 to $0.15 and will vary based a variety of factors. Please review your merchant agreement and statement which will contain the rate you will be charged.

6 Transaction fees may apply.

About Bank of America Merchant Services

Bank of America Merchant Services, a joint venture between First Data and Bank of America, provides payment solutions by combining the technology and innovative products of First Data with the relationship strength and prominent global brand of Bank of America. Bank of America Merchant Services delivers a comprehensive suite of products and services, called Paymentum™, to merchants of all sizes. Paymentum includes over 100 products including traditional payments like terminals and point-of-sale solutions, gift card and loyalty programs but also provides innovative mobile and ecommerce solutions, security options and customer service. In fact, Bank of America Merchant Services is the number one-rated electronic payments processor in the industry with more than 300,000 active merchants processing more than 13.5 billion transactions annually. For more information, visit [5].

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 55 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,500 banking centers and approximately 16,300 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active online banking users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to more than 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

For more Bank of America news, visit the Bank of America newsroom [6].

Andrew Roby Raises $120,000 for Make-A-Wish - A World Record

The Pitchin' for Wishes Cornhole Tourney, co-sponsored by Andrew Roby and Harris Teeter, raised $120,000 for Make-A-Wish® Central & Western North Carolina.

The money will provide hope, strength and joy for as many as 20 children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. The average cost to grant a child's wish through Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina is $6,000.

"The tournament was a lot of fun, and we're thrilled to support the mission of Make-A-Wish in such a meaningful way," said David McGuire, Andrew Roby chief operating officer. "It's great to know that everyone involved with Pitchin' for Wishes has helped make dreams come true for so many deserving children in our area."

Though Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina grants about 200 wishes each year, it has more than 325 qualified children in its pipeline. The organization relies solely on fundraising support from the local community.

"The Andrew Roby family of companies, their employees and vendors are true partners in the Power of a Wish®," said Amy E. Brindley, president and chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina. "We are overwhelmed at the lengths they go to help fund the wishes of children in our community that are battling incredible odds. They are truly a vital part of our Make-A-Wish family."

The Pitchin' for Wishes Cornhole Tourney on Oct. 13 at Freedom Park featured an NCAA bracket-style bag-toss competition, as well as food, music and entertainment. Almost 1,000 people attended the family-friendly event, which was the fifth annual cornhole tournament organized by Andrew Roby. The tournaments have raised a combined $353,000 for various charities.

Last year's event set a Guinness world record with 256 cornhole players. The 2012 tournament broke the record with 288 players, and the results are in the process of being certified by Guinness.

Andrew Roby, the premier custom residential contractor in the Carolinas, specializes in remodeling, kitchen and bath renovations, new homes and handyman services. The company was founded more than 60 years ago as a one-man remodeling firm and has grown into the largest in the Charlotte metro area with offices in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Boone and Atlantic Beach, N.C. With fine materials, unsurpassed craftsmanship and commitment to customer service, Andrew Roby produces one-of-a-kind homes that feature style, luxury and comfort. Visit


Enjoy High Tea and Holiday Shopping at The Duke Mansion

Looking for an elegant new way to enjoy the holiday and take care of your shopping at the same time?
Experience a delicious high tea and an afternoon of boutique shopping at The Duke Mansion on Sunday, December 2 at 2 pm. The cost is $35 per adult and $15 for children ages 5 to 12. Reserve your spot by November 28 by calling 704/714-4445 or emailing . The Mansion is located at 400 Hermitage Road in Charlotte's Myers Park.

From 2 - 3 pm, we'll shop 'round The Mansion's dramatic Christmas tree. Participating shops include:
blis Uptown
The Blossom Shop
The Buttercup
Jeffre Scott Apothecary
Reid's Fine Foods
Twenty Degrees Chocolates
and more…
At 3 pm, we'll savor high tea in the living room. Offerings from Executive Chef Harrison Booth will include Duke Mansion signature tea and other tea selections, tea sandwiches, canapes, and sweets.

Built in 1915 and tripled in size by its most famous owner, James Buchanan Duke, The Duke Mansion has been home and host to leaders of the 20th century. Duke's most lasting legacies, including Duke University, Duke Energy, and the Duke Endowment, took shape at the home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Mansion is now operated as a non-profit with all proceeds being used to preserve and protect this community treasure. Find out more at #

Friday, November 9, 2012

National political analyst David Brooks will speak at Davidson Monday evening, Nov. 12

Davidson College invites the public on Monday, November 12, to a talk analyzing the 2012 elections by New York Times columnist and PBS Newshour commentator David Brooks. Brooks has been an opinion columnist with the paper since 2003. He has also served as a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, and as a contributing editor for Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly.

Brooks will begin his talk, which is titled "What It Means: The 2012 Election and the Future of America," at 8 p.m. in Duke Family Performance Hall. There is no charge to attend, but tickets are required. They may be obtained for free at the Alvarez College Union ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and are available for a $3 fee at<> and at 704-894-2135. If tickets remain, they will be available at no charge at the door on Monday evening.

Brooks is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics and foreign affairs. His newest book is titled The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. Among his other books are Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future."

The program is being sponsored by the President's Office and the Vann Center for Ethics.