Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CPCC accepting reservations to Global Competitiveness II Summit on 2/21

The opening of a major intermodal facility at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, combined with the expansion of thePanama Canal in 2014 will significantly affect trade routes across the globe and present significant entrepreneurial, manufacturing and transportationopportunities for the Charlotte region. Ships from Asia will be able to reach the U.S. east coast more quickly and directly. This change to the world's shipping patterns is expected to position Charlotte as a unique intermodal transportation center and leader in global commerce and manufacturing.

To prepare the region's key decision makers for this global shift, a host of local and national business leaders will gather for this second summit to discuss what opportunities exist for the region to create, make and move products across the global marketplace. Scheduled speakers include:

· Dr. Seth Harris, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor

· Sharon Decker, N.C. Commerce Secretary

· Dr. John Silvia, Managing Director and Chief Economist for Wells Fargo

· Michael Gallis, Global Strategist

· Peter Ammon, German Ambassador to the United States

· Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte

· Tanja Gonner, GIZ Board Chairwoman

· Mike Manis, Director of Community & Economic Development for Centralina Council of Government

Other featured presentations will include Bob Morgan, president and CEO of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, announcing the Chamber's strategic plan; Ronnie Bryant, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, presenting the group's marketingplan for the region; and Chris William, host of "Carolina Business Review," moderating two panel discussions with business leaders on what the region needs to do to become more globally competitive.

There are many German businesses in the Queen City; in fact, Germany is the most largely represented country in the Charlotte region. Almost 60 German companies are headquartered in Charlotte and more than 190 companies in the Queen City are German-owned. Therefore, the summit is attracting a strong German contingent. In addition to Mr. Ammon, Tanja Gonner, a GIZ board chairwoman, will also be a featured speaker. GIZ is a German international economic and workforce development agency.

The Global Competitiveness II Summit was created to build upon the success of the first Global Competitive Success event, held in August 2012 at CPCC's Harris Campus, and seeks to inform and engage Charlotte region stakeholders in developing strategies and partnerships that will allow the region to grow a robust and resilient advanced manufacturing economy, workforce pipeline and transportation infrastructure.

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 21; 7 a.m. – noon

WHERE: Harris Conference Center, CPCC Harris Campus, 3216 Harris Conference Dr., Charlotte, NC

CONTACT: Tickets are $25 and includes breakfast. To register, visit www.cpccc.edu/global<http://www.cpccc.edu/global>.

How Should Our Region Grow? Residents' Input Sought At Open Meetings

Residents in the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County will have a unique opportunity to provide input that will help to build a planning framework to address the region's growth and ensure the continued vitality of local communities.

The first of five "CONNECT Our Future" open houses will be held onWednesday, February 6, from 4-7 p.m., in the front concourse of Bojangles Coliseum, located at 2700 East Independence Blvd., Charlotte.

The open houses will allow participants to drop in anytime during the three-hour period to view exhibits explaining the challenge of future growth and the process to address it, talk to local government staff and fill out a questionnaire to provide their input.

Other open houses to be held within the City of Charlotte include:
Monday February 11, 4p.m.-7 p.m., East Stonewall AME Zion Church, 1729 Griers Grove Road
Tuesday February 12, 4 p.m.-7 p.m., Crossway Community Church, 6400 Prosperity Church Road
Wednesday February 20, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Wells Fargo Atrium, Charlotte Center City
Thursday February 21, 4 p.m-7 p.m., Sharon Presbyterian Church, 5201 Sharon Road

Residents will be asked what they value about their community and region, and what they think are the biggest regional challenges. That input will be developed into evaluation criteria and used later in the process to evaluate scenarios for how the region could grow. Providing input will ensure that the perspective of residents of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County is incorporated into the process.
The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are among the more than 100 local governments, businesses, and non-profits participating in the three-year "CONNECT Our Future" initiative to develop a regional framework for the growth of the 14-county region. The growth framework will help to ensure the region can match growth with good quality jobs, transportation; quality housing that is affordable, clean water, improved air quality and other social and physical infrastructure improvements.

In the past decade, the region surrounding Charlotte has emerged as America's fastest growing region of any area with a population greater than 1 million people. Within 20 years, the population is expected to grow by 50 percent, and double by 2050, meaning the addition of more than 2 million people to the region. The region is also one of the largest in the nation without a framework for growth. The framework will be built on existing community plans, public engagement, and local values. The framework will contain policies, strategies and tools for voluntary use and adoption by local governments, and will also create a network of relationships across the region to address the challenges faced by individual communities and the region as a whole.

Residents are not required to attend an open house nearest to them but may attend the event in another community, based on what is most convenient. Other open houses in the Mecklenburg County region include:
February 5 Belmont Belmont Abbey College, Haid Ballroom, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
February 7 Huntersville Huntersville Town Hall, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
February 18 Matthews Matthews Town Hall, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
February 19 Mount Holly Mount Holly Municipal Complex, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

The three-year planning process to build a regional framework is funded by a federal grant administered by the Centralina Council of Governments in partnership with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, both of which are helping to coordinate, facilitate and staff the process. To learn more about this initiative, visit www.ConnectOurFuture.org.

City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Release Enhanced Interactive Quality of Life Study

The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have recently released the new Quality of Life Study, performed under contract with University of North Carolina – Charlotte (UNCC) Metropolitan Studies Institute. The Quality of Life Study is a collection of social, crime, physical, economic and environmental conditions that provide a snapshot of the health of our neighborhoods. The study is commonly used by residents, service providers, government agencies, real estate agents, and universities to help understand the dynamics of neighborhoods. The study data also helps organizations develop programs and determine service delivery strategies for Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents.

Between 2003 and 2010, the study included neighborhoods within the City of Charlotte geography. In 2012, the study geography was expanded to include the Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville through a collaborative effort with Mecklenburg County.

For the first time, the new study report format features an interactive web 'Dashboard' with maps and graphs to display data in a user friendly platform at http://maps.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/qoldashboard/ Each variable contains website links to resources for more detailed information. Another feature of the dashboard is the capability to customize neighborhood reports from the data.

Historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Association President, Mattie Marshall, comments, "After reading an article about the new Quality of Life Dashboard, I immediately logged on to the website and was impressed with how easy I was able to navigate and access information. It's a valuable tool and user friendly. It's loaded with lots of information and data with helpful links that will have a major impact on the quality of life in our neighborhoods. I am so happy the labels (Challenged, Transitioning, Stable) are gone. The Study is a valuable tools and resource.

The City and County invite citizens to attend one of the upcoming community meetings to learn how the new interactive online dashboard can be used to get a snapshot of their neighborhood's health and generate a report. This, in turn, can help neighborhoods develop their future work plans and choose areas of focus based on what they believe a positive quality of life looks like in their neighborhoods.

The following dates and locations across the County have been secured for the public meetings:


East Charlotte
• Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive, Charlotte
• Tuesday, February 12, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
• Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Road, Charlotte
• Wednesday, February 13, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

South Charlotte
• South County Regional Library, 5801 Rea Road, Charlotte
• Friday, February 15, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
• Morrison Regional Library, 7015 Morrison Boulevard, Charlotte
• Tuesday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

North Mecklenburg County
• North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Road, Huntersville.
• Tuesday, February 19, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

North Charlotte
• Beatties Ford Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte
• Thursday, February 28, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

West Charlotte
• West Boulevard Library, 2157 West Boulevard, Charlotte
• Tuesday, February 26, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
AND

• Wednesday, February 27, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Citizens can email qualityoflife@charlottenc.gov with questions, or to request a customized training for their neighborhood or business group. To learn more about the new Quality of Life Study, visit: http://qol.charmeck.org.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Facebook Robbery Safety Tips - Beware Fancy Sneakers

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Robbery Unit would like to remind the community to use extreme caution and be vigilant about their safety when utilizing the internet to arrange the buying/selling of personal property. CMPD has recently experienced a trend of armed robberies, common law robberies, and larcenies where victims are being robbed of their sneakers.

There is a group on Facebook called The Sneaker Head Society of North Carolina. People who are members can go to this site and sell, purchase, or trade used or new sneakers that are usually higher priced and hard to find in a store. The buyer and seller normally agree to a price on this site and may or may not exchange telephone numbers to come up with a designated meeting place.

The Robbery Unit would like to educate the users of Facebook, Craigslist, and other private sector sites/forums on some safety tips to keep them from being a victim of a robbery when using one of these sites to make a purchase of sneakers:

1. After you agree to meet the buyer or seller and that person's profile is no longer on the site do not do business with them.
2. If the buyer or seller changes the meeting place that is agreed upon this should make you very suspicious.
3. Always meet the buyer or seller in a public place where there are plenty of people. Never agree to meet on a side street or a place that is not well lit.
4. Always take someone with you and let the buyer or seller know you will be bringing someone with you to the meeting place. If you decide to go alone advise someone of your location and return time prior to the meeting taking place.
5. If the agreement for the sneakers you are buying/selling seems too good to be true then it is probably a scam.

Anyone with information concerning these robberies is asked to call the Crime Stopper's tip-line at 704-334-1600, or visithttp://charlottecrimestoppers.com.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Solid Waste Services Suspends Yard Waste Collections Due to Inclement Weather

The City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services (SWS) has suspended yard waste collection services for Friday and Saturday, January 25 and 26 due to inclement weather. On Saturday, January 26, SWS anticipates garbage, recycling, and bulky item collections to be delayed until 9 am to allow areas within neighborhoods to clear. Friday customers are asked to leave rollout carts curbside until they are serviced.

In observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21, SWS was on a one-day delay therefore Thursday routes were being collected today. If crews were not able to provide yard waste collection to those residents prior to the suspension of service, those residents will be collected next week on their normal collection day. SWS should resume its normal collection services on Monday, January 28.

Residents are reminded of the following tips to ensure collection:

· Trimmings from shrubs and trees must be no longer than five feet in length and no larger than four inches in diameter

· Yard waste should be separated in piles small enough for one person to carry

· Place collection materials curbside by 6:30 am on the day of collection

· Place collection items within two feet of the curb. Please do not block the sidewalk

· Allow three feet between your garbage cart, recycling cart, yard waste, bulky items and obstacles such as vehicles, mailboxes, phone poles, etc.

For more information on Solid Waste Services, please visit http://curbit.charlottenc.gov or call 311 (704.336.7600).

Charlotte's Resident Furry Forecaster to Make Live Shadow Check for Groundhog Day Feb. 2

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Queen reigns supreme when it comes to predicting the end of the winter season. Charlotte's very own furry forecaster, Queen Charlotte the groundhog (Marmota monax), is burrowed deep preparing for her big day. Will she proclaim a longer winter or are warmer days ahead? Find out at Charlotte's only live groundhog shadow check at Charlotte Nature Museum's February Creature Feature event, Groundhog Day, Saturday, February 2, from10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Charlotte Nature Museum's Queen Charlotte has been preparing to outwit the Queen City's own meteorologists when it comes to foreseeing the forecast. Even as cousin Phil prognosticates in Punxsutawney, Queen Charlotte will emerge from her lair to greet her court - other animals that share characteristics or burrow space with the groundhog - before checking for her shadow at precisely 11:30 a.m. Gnaw on the folklore of Groundhog Day and many other hair-raising fun facts during the Museum-wide special event. Here's a nippy nugget: many groundhogs go into hibernation during winter, which greatly reduces their metabolic rate, and may reduce their body temperature to as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Some people assume a groundhog's internal clock is affected by annual changes in the amount of daylight," said Vonna Brown, coordinator at Charlotte Nature Museum. "However, groundhogs awake depending on their individual responses to cyclic changes in production of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone."

Nature-lovers can excavate deep for the dirt on all things groundhog, including the chance to play groundhog-themed games such as pin-the-shadow-on-the-groundhog and groundhog cornhole. Little ones will especially love "The Shadow Knows" Puppet Show and groundhog-themed story time and crafts which will run regularly throughout the event. Special stories will include "Go to Sleep, Little Groundhog" by Claude Clement, "Wake Up, Groundhog!" by Susan Karman, and "Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather" by Bruce Koscielniek

Find Queen Charlotte on Twitter @CLTGroundhog.

Creature Features, supported by The Guild of Discovery Place and Charlotte Nature Museum, are monthly special events and include crafts, puppet shows, storytelling and refreshments. Creature Feature activities are free with Museum admission. Admission: $6 ages two and older, younger-than-two and Members are free. Parking is free.

Charlotte Nature Museum is located at 1658 Sterling Road, Charlotte. Hours are: Tuesday-Thursday
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Sunday noon - 5:00 p.m.; and closed on Monday.

Charlotte Nature Museum offers visitors the chance to get close to wildlife and walk among free-flying butterflies in Butterfly Pavilion, observe live animals inCreature Cavern, buzz by Insect Alley or just hang out in Our Big Backyard. Visitors can learn together during workshops, summer camps and more. Daily programming including hands-on activities provide the opportunity for structured learning and informal play for kids of all ages. Charlotte Nature Museum is operated by Discovery Place, Inc.

Metropolitan Transit Commission Forms Working Group to Study 2030 Transit Plan Funding

At a meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) Wednesday night, MTC Chair Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx urged the formation of a working group to study funding for future transit projects. This action follows an October decision by the MTC to convene a workshop, currently scheduled for April, to consider and adopt strategies to fund the 2030 Transit Plan.

The working group will be co-led by Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and Charlotte City Councilman David Howard, and include MTC staff, MTC member mayors or their designees, and business and community leaders from participating jurisdictions.

"As I and many others have been saying, our funding environment has changed, making it harder to see any future transit projects happening over the next 10 to 20 years," Foxx said. "We need to explore all options available to us to complete, and perhaps accelerate, our long-term regional transit plans. Connecting our region through transit is critical both to our future economic prosperity and to managing our exponential population growth."

"I believe that if we are to have a vision for the future, it's imperative for us as a collective group to look at creative financing mechanisms for our transit plan and explore anything that can help us achieve our goals," Swain said. "Analyzing our future transit issues is at least as important, if not more so, than addressing our current ones."

"There's nothing more important to Charlotte's future than figuring out our mass transit system," Howard said. "I look forward to working with Mayor Swain and the rest of the working group to find ways to make sure we move our transit plan forward as it will be one of the things that will most define us as we go to the next level as a city and a region."

The working group will submit its findings and recommendations to the MTC in a report due no later than April 15. The group will consider such financing strategies as: Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), Synthetic Tax Increment Financing (STIFs), Tax Increment Grant (TIGs), Business Privilege Licensing Tax, sales tax revenue, and incremental property taxes. It will also consider which strategies are currently available to local governments and which would require additional County, voter, and/or North Carolina General Assembly authorization.

The Charlotte Area Transit System will be the lead agency in supporting the working group.

The formation of the working group comes at a critical time for the Charlotte region's transit system:

• Transit sales tax revenues dropped during the recession to 2005 levels, eliminating capacity to fund projects beyond the Blue Line Extension.
• The Blue Line Extension, the single largest capital project in Charlotte's history, has required increased property taxes from at least three jurisdictions.
• The General Assembly has already eliminated $6 million in matching transit funding, increasing concerns that matches for future projects will be eliminated and may require increased local commitments.
• New federal policies and funding approaches may make funding the 2030 Transit Plan less predictable than in previous years.
• The Charlotte region is the fastest-growing urban area in the nation.

More information on the MTC's 2030 Transit Plan is available here.

CMS will operate on a two-hour release schedule today

Ensuring the safety of CMS students and staff is our number one priority. On Friday, Jan. 25, all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will operate on a two-hour early release schedule. That means all schools will release students two hours earlier than their normal release times, and all afternoon bus routes will operate two hours earlier than their normal route times.

All field trips, after school clubs, athletic practices and games, and all after school enrichment programs will be cancelled. If your child is normally transported to an alternate After-school Enrichment Program site, parents you should plan to pick up their child at that site unless other arrangements are made with the school. No makeup days for students will be necessary.

City offices to close at 3 p.m. today due to weather

Interim City Manager Julie Burch has announced that City of Charlotte offices will close at 3 p.m. today (Jan. 25), with the exception of field operations and essential services. Residents can get updates regarding any service changes through the following media:

• CharMeck Alert Center at http://emergency.charmeck.org features the latest information on City services, including CATS bus schedules and other updates.
• NotifyMe – To receive emergency notifications via email or text, you can subscribe to the NotifyMe service by clicking here.
• GOV Channel – You can tune in to Cable 16 or view the live stream at http://govchannel.charmeck.org. Live tickers will display the latest emergency information.
• Social media – You can also follow the City via social media on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
• Local media – Any closures or delays will be submitted to local media immediately.

Residents are advised to use extra caution when traveling in wintry weather conditions. Drive slowly and allow extra following distance and commute time. Stay back from large vehicles salting and brining roads. Allow emergency vehicles plenty of room to get around you. If salt or brine gets on your car, a good wash should remove it.

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 newsroom.charlottenc.gov.
From our website, you can sign up to receive email updates on City topics that interest you through the Notify Me service.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Studio Movie Grill In-Theatre Dining Takes Mez Space in EpiCentre

Studio Movie Grill (SMG), known nationwide as the pioneer and leader in the first-run, in-theater dining concept, is proud to announce the opening of the 30,000 square foot SMG EPICENTRE in Charlotte, North Carolina. Formerly occupied by Epicentre Theatres and Mez, this marks the first North Carolina location for Studio Movie Grill and the 12th location in the US.

"Charlotte is a vibrant city, and EPICENTRE is an outstanding entertainment complex. Naturally it felt like a great match for the SMG concept. Events and programming will be a major focus for us as we understand consumers today are looking for unique ways to get more out of their entertainment experiences," said Brian Schultz, Studio Movie Grill founder and owner.

"The EPICENTRE is such an important destination asset for Center City Charlotte with its central location, transit accessibility, retail mix and parking volume," said Michael J. Smith, President and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. "The addition of Studio Movie Grill is one more example of the incredible enhancements the new owners have made to improve the EPICENTRE. This fresh theater concept is consistent with their visionary approach and will serve our guests well."

Known for its affordable luxury, SMG EPICENTRE will offer first-run movies with its innovative 100% reserved seating. Once inside, patrons will enjoy crystal clear Dolby audio and the best in today's Barco projection systems. At the push of a button, guests will experience Studio Movie Grill's distinct kitchen-to-chair delivery with skilled servers never compromising the view. "From the moment you purchase a ticket, you become a guest of SMG. We want our guests to come in, enjoy themselves in the theatre or at the bar and never feel hurried to get to their seat. It is important that we provide that no-rush feeling at no extra fee to consumers and
we invite the Charlotte community to come and experience what sets us apart from our competition."
says Schultz, who has spent the last 20 years refining the in-theater dining concept.

With an ever-evolving dining menu, Studio Movie Grill has upped the ante on what to expect from theater food. SMG's menu features an eclectic and varied menu offering Crab Cakes, Kale & Avocado Salad, Sun Dried Tomato & Arugula Pizza, as well as house favorites such as the Steak Sandwich, Crispy Portabella Sandwich and Coconut Chicken Tenders. In-theater or at the premium bar, guests can enjoy an array of drinks including the signature SMG Cellars Cabernet & Chardonnay from Central California. SMG also offers a tempting range of cocktails including the popular Texas Frozen Margarita paying homage to SMG's home state and the signature Studio Blue Grande Margarita alongside perennial favorites such as the New York Cosmo.

Additionally Studio Movie Grill will bring to the city its SMG With A Twist. This alternate programming allows moviegoers the chance to experience cutting edge documentaries, one-night-only concert films, sports and $1 classic movie screenings, as well as themed monthly film series such as "Girls Night Out" and "Brews & Views."

Interested in joining the SMG family? SMG EPICENTRE is currently accepting online applicants for servers, kitchen staff and bartenders. Please apply via the Studio Movie Grill website prior to opening, Tuesday, February 26. STUDIO MOVIE GRILL EPICENTRE will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 3 PM to 12 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 1 AM. To learn more, visit www.studiomoviegrill.com.

About Studio Movie Grill:

The SMG EPICENTRE, Charlotte, North Carolina opening marks Studio Movie Grill's 12th location to date including seven in Texas - five in the Dallas Fort Worth area, two in Houston - two locations in the Atlanta area, as well as locations in Scottsdale, AZ and Wheaton, IL with more expansion on the way and new locations planned to open in 2013. For additional information, please visit www.studiomoviegrill.com.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DHHS Secretary Sets MeckLink "Go Live" Date to March 1, Cancels MeckLINK Assignment to Cardinal

Mecklenburg County and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, M.D. have reached an agreement that allows MeckLINK to move forward with implementing the State's Medicaid waiver. As part of the agreement, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) rescinds its assignment of the 1915 b/c waiver operations in Mecklenburg County to Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions.

Therefore, DHHS has directed providers of mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disability services to continue cooperatively working with MeckLINK.

The agreement stipulates that MeckLINK's "go live" date is March 1, 2013. DHHS will continue to closely monitor MeckLINK's readiness progress over the next several weeks and make the final determination by mid-February whether MeckLINK will implement waiver operations or to reassign them. The State's monitoring will include two readiness reviews by Mercer Consulting, which will occur the weeks of January 28 and February 11.

"We are pleased that Dr. Wos shares our view that MeckLINK should implement the Medicaid waiver in Mecklenburg County," said Mecklenburg County Manager Harry L. Jones, Sr., "This agreement aligns our efforts to achieve implementation at the earliest possible time and avoids the delay, expense and distraction of litigation. MeckLINK staff continues working diligently to prepare to implement the [program] and we remain confident we will demonstrate readiness to begin operations by the deadline."

The agreement between Mecklenburg County and DHHS reverses former DHHS Acting Secretary Al Delia's December 31, 2012 action reassigning the 1915 b/c waiver operations in Mecklenburg County to Cardinal. Dr. Wos and her staff engaged immediately in concerted discussions with County staff and legal counsel to reach this mutually beneficial resolution prior to the commencement of an administrative appeal.

Authentic Irish Pub To Host A One-Of-A-Kind St. Patrick's Day Celebration

St. Patrick's Day is swiftly approaching and Galway Hooker is transforming its normal one day celebration into a two day experience.

Galway Hooker's two day St. Patrick's Day event will begin on Saturday, March 16, with final celebrations to be held Sunday, March 17. A record breaking 3,000 people attended last year's festivities and the same attendance is expected this year.

On Saturday, before St. Patrick's Day, the block surrounding Galway Hooker is transformed to an authentic Irish party. The revelry begins with live music by local bands, bagpipers, Irish step dancers, bar games, a raffle benefiting Grin Kids charity and of course traditional St. Patrick's Day drinking. The event starts at 11 a.m. and won't stop until 2 a.m.

The St. Patty's Day festivities don't end Saturday. For those looking for the ultimate St. Patrick's Day experience, Galway Hooker offers a VIP ticket for both Saturday and Sunday for $20, which includes a private location, whiskey tasting, Irish buffet, Guinness collectible and Galway Hooker t-shirt.

Galway Hooker Restaurant and Irish Pub is located at 17044 Kenton Drive, just off Interstate 77 in Cornelius.

The Galway Hooker Restaurant and Irish Pub believes that nothing inspires a great story like a delicious meal and a refreshing pint. That's because the Galway Hooker is a story in and of itself. Originally built in Ireland, the pub was deconstructed and moved piece-by-piece to its current location off the shores of Lake Norman, just a stone's throw from Charlotte, North Carolina. The pub is named for Galway Bay, which lies on the west coast of Ireland. Nearly all of the artifacts and d├ęcor inside the pub, including an authentic Galway Hooker boat, are from the area surrounding Galway Bay. The Galway Hooker serves traditional Irish favorites fused with contemporary items all made with fresh, locally grown ingredients. Galway Hooker is also home to Lake Norman Comedy Zone, which attracts some of the biggest names in comedy, as well as Waterford Hall, a spacious banquet facility. Plus, Galway Hooker is known to pour the coldest pints this side of Dublin. And don't forget - at the Hooker you enter as friends and leave as family.

Bank of America Awards Nearly $22 Million to Address Critical Needs

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation today announced it will provide nearly $22 million in grants to over 1,000 nonprofits across the U.S. that address immediate critical needs, such as hunger and shelter, to longer-term solutions that promote financial wellness through access to benefits and resources.

The majority of grants will support nonprofits serving low-income communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn, with over half of the funding to help meet the growing demands for assistance in hunger relief and shelter. More than 50 million Americans face hunger according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the average length of stay in shelters has been steadily increasing. Grants have also been directed to support longer-term needs that connect people to benefits access and financial assistance programs, such as case management, access to credit repair, income tax filing assistance and budget counseling.

"Too many families are forced to choose between paying bills and feeding their family," said Kerry Sullivan, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. "Helping individuals and families connect to programs and services that meet their immediate needs and enable them to gain financial stability is vital to the economic health of our country, and we're pleased to partner with local and national nonprofits that are helping people get back on their feet and move ahead."

In response to the need for hunger relief in communities large and small, Bank of America has partnered with Feeding America, the largest domestic provider of hunger relief, through a combination of philanthropic support, volunteerism and customer engagement. As part of its funding for critical needs, the Foundation is supporting Feeding America and its network of more than 200 local food banks and food rescue organizations to meet the growing domestic demand for food. This past holiday season, Bank of America was the exclusive partner with Feeding America's Give A Meal program, which provides meals to families in need. In addition to a direct contribution, the bank provided a two-to-one match on individual donations up to a total match of $1.5 million, collectively raising funds for more than 26 million meals for the hungry.

For low- to moderate-income families, making the most of every dollar is a necessity. Bank of America is providing more than $7 million to 129 local United Ways to provide support including comprehensive financial wellness programs that will help people maximize their earnings, including earned income tax credit preparation, financial coaching and connecting people to financial services like free checking accounts and savings programs. These grants build on the company's long-time partnership with United Way Worldwide, including its lead support in establishing the national financial stability partnership.

In addition to the company's financial support, Bank of America employees volunteer and donate money to help strengthen communities. Last year, employees provided around 100,000 volunteer hours in activities such as packing food, building affordable housing and teaching financial literacy, and pledged $21.5 million to critical needs through Bank of America's United Way Campaign.

Supporting nonprofits addressing critical needs is one component of the company's community focus on housing, jobs and hunger – three areas that are vital to stimulating the national economic recovery. From January 22, 2013 through February 15, 2013, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will accept grant applications from nonprofits working on workforce development and education and will issue a similar request related to housing later this year. For more information on the request for proposals, eligibility criteria or to submit an application, please visitwww.bankofamerica.com/foundation.

Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility
Bank of America's commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

Local Seniors Battle Flu with 'Fight-the-Flu Kits'

This vicious flu epidemic has threatened local seniors and now their families are fighting back with "Fight the Flu Kits" and caregivers to protect their elderly loved ones. Weaker immune systems make seniors more vulnerable to the flu and that's why 90% of all flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 or older.

That's why Visiting Angels, one of the nation's largest in-home senior care companies, with a center in our area, is helping local families in two ways:

1) Assembling Visiting Angels "Fight The Flu Kit" - so seniors protect themselves from the flu.
2) Offering In-home Senior Flu Service - Caregivers help sanitize seniors' homes and run errands for seniors (ie. grocery store) so they're not exposed to the flu, take seniors to get their flu shot and care for seniors and take them to the doctor if they have the flu.

"This flu can be deadly for seniors because they can develop pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, so families have to be especially vigilant with their elderly loved ones," says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels, one of our nation's largest in-home care companies with a center in our area. "Our flu kits help seniors protect themselves from the flu. Our caregivers run errands so seniors don't go out and get exposed to the virus especially in high exposure areas such as the grocery store or the mall. Plus, we help sanitize the seniors' homes to keep them as germ-free as possible. Our kits and caregivers are especially helpful for people who don't live near their elderly loved ones and want someone to protect their seniors and watch over them if they get sick and need help recovering."

Visiting Angels "Fight The Flu Kits" include: (items available at most retail stores)

• Paper towels – encourage seniors to use paper towels in the bathroom instead of hand towels, which can harbor germs.
• The Medisim TempleTouch™ thermometer – if seniors have a fever higher than 102 degrees, that could indicate they have the flu.
• Vitamin C or little boxes of orange juice – helps build seniors' weaker immune systems.
• Pocket-size hand sanitizer, with aloe – helps keep seniors' skin germ-free without drying out their sensitive skin.
• Pens – seniors should always have their own pen handy – pens shared in public areas carry a ton of germs.
• Lysol spray – reminder for seniors to spray doorknobs, handles, and light switches, etc... at least once a week – viruses can live up to 48 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
• Hand soap - recent studies show plain soap and water works just as well, if not better, than antibacterial soaps.
• Cold Vs. Flu Tip Sheet Here – This hand-out explains the difference between the cold and flu.
• Hand sanitizer wipes – these are handy to have on-the-go, whether to clean hands or public surfaces. Don't rely on just baby wipes because they do not contain the proper ingredients to kill viruses and germs.
"Often seniors don't think of themselves as elderly, ignore health warnings and resent loved ones 'telling them what to do'," adds Meigs. "Our caregivers can help nudge a senior to get protection from the flu and to get the help they need if they get the virus."

Visiting Angels "Fight The Flu" Tips for Seniors

• Get the flu shot because it's free and covered by Medicare. People 65 and older have two flu shots available to choose from – a regular dose vaccine and a newer higher dose flu vaccine that results in a stronger immune response. Seniors should talk to their doctors to see if they're a good fit for this vaccine.
• Shorten the duration of symptoms by getting an anti viral medication within 48 hours.

The EPICENTRE Gets Healthy This Month

The EPICENTRE isn't just home to shopping, entertainment and nightlife. It also houses a critical mass of health-conscious businesses that provide solutions to health challenges.

On Saturday, Jan. 26, from noon until 4 p.m. the EPICENTRE hosts the 'For Your Health!' event. Activities, prizes and demonstrations will transform the block into a health conscious learning center.

Kids Club Central will be on sight with kid friendly fitness actives. Zoomba, table massages and workout equipment demonstrations will be featured and prizes from Gold's Gym and EPICENTRE businesses will be given away throughout the day.

'For Your Health' is for everyone from fitness enthusiasts to health and fitness beginners. Key participants are Gold's Gym Elite, Fuel Juice Bar, Massage 101, Venice Beach Tan, Smoothie King, Center City Bike Program, First Charlotte Physicians and local sports icons including the Bobcats, Hounds and Checkers.

EPICENTRE is located at the corners of 4th & College Streets and College & Trade Streets in Uptown Charlotte.

EPICENTRE is the Southeast's hub for dining, entertainment, recreation, nightlife and hospitality. Featuring an innovative design and accommodating layout, EPICENTRE is home to over three dozen unique concepts encompassing over half a million square feet. The restaurants, shops and nightspots at EpiCentre are perfectly situated around an open air pavilion offering dramatic views of the Charlotte skyline. Located at the intersection of Trade and College Streets, EPICENTRE is in the heart of vibrant uptown Charlotte, just blocks away from prominent businesses and venues such as Bank of America Corporate Center, Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte Convention Center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Museum. Best of all, EPICENTRE is easily accessible from anywhere, including a convenient stop on the LYNX Blue Line.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chicken Day at Charlotte Nature Museum Jan. 19 - Great for Kids

Count your chickens (before they cross the road?). In an eggs-cellent start to a new year, Charlotte Nature Museum's January Creature Feature: Chicken Day gives little cluckers the chance to meet fine feathered fowl on Saturday, January 19 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Such a rare opportunity might not fly with everyone, but visitors to this unique event will discover the variety of chickens and other barnyard birds.

Comb over an array of chickens at Chicken Day such as the Rhode Island red [Gallus gallus domesticus], America's most well known breed, and the 'rumpless' Araucana [Gallus sp.], which is missing a vertebrae, lacks a tail and lays blue eggs. Talk to local chicken owners about their birds and what it takes to raise a flock. Resplendent adult and baby Silkie chickens [Gallus gallus japonese silkie] will show off their black, blue, white and even lavender feathers, turquoise blue earlobes, five-toed feet and fur-like feathers.

Diversity is the norm among the feathered crowd. With distinctive features that make them all look very different chickens can be difficult to identify. From spurs and wattles to combs and ear tufts, learn more about this quirky domesticated fowl including the variety of sizes, shapes and colors of their eggs, and how they are an important part of local farming. Here's a fact that could make some fly the coop: chickens are actually omnivores and sometimes eat prey like small mice and lizards. Peck over all that chickens find tasty when they scratch around in the soil including worms, insects, seeds, grains, snails, slugs, fruits and vegetables, while exploring our new outdoor exhibit, Fort Wild.

Museum Naturalists will have chicken tidbits such as habitat information, nutritional requirements and tips on how to raise chickens in your own backyard. Visitors also can visit with a variety of newly hatched chicks and Museum fowl such as the Chukar partridge [Alectoris chukar], bobwhite quail [Colinus virginianus] and baby button quails [Coturnix sp.], all of which are closely related to the chicken.

Nest with us for Story Time including the titles "The Missing Chick" by Valerie Gorbachev, "Rosie's Walk" by Pat Hutchin and "Be Patient Little Chick" by Patricia Jensen. Fly by Dragonfly Theatre for the Puppet Show, "The Shadow Knows" and drop in to the Naturalist Lab to make crafty cardboard chicks.

Creature Features are monthly special events and include crafts, puppet shows, storytelling and refreshments (while supplies last). Creature Feature activities are free with Museum admission. Admission: $6 ages two and older, younger-than-two and Members are free. Parking is free. Charlotte Nature Museum is located at 1658 Sterling Road, Charlotte. Hours are: Tuesday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday noon – 5:00 p.m.; and closed on Monday.

Charlotte Nature Museum offers visitors the chance to get close to wildlife and walk among free-flying butterflies in Butterfly Pavilion, observe live animals inCreature Cavern, buzz by Insect Alley or just hang out in Our Big Backyard. Visitors can learn together during Workshops, Summer Camps and more. Daily programming including hands-on activities provide the opportunity for structured learning and informal play for kids of all ages. Charlotte Nature Museum is operated by Discovery Place, Inc.

City of Charlotte 2013 MLK Events Run Through Jan. 26

Charlotte-Mecklenburg will celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of history's greatest champions of peace, pluralism and diversity, with six events:

Memorial and Wreath-Laying Ceremony
Tuesday, January 15 at 12 p.m. at Marshall Park
Held in Marshall Park to commemorate the life and death of Dr. King, this year's event features community leaders Glenn Thomas and Jibril Huff, along with Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield.

CMS MLK Art and Writing Contest Awards Ceremony
Thursday, January 17, 6:30 - 8 p.m. at West Charlotte High School
Now in its 19th year, the annual Art and Writing Contest is a district-wide competition of students' work. School winners will be recognized, and district-level competition winners will be announced. All first-place winners receive an honorarium and have an opportunity to share their work throughout the community starting on January 20.

City of Charlotte MLK Holiday Parade
Saturday, January 19, 11 a.m. at North Tryon & 9th Streets
The parade runs along North Tryon Street from 9th Street to Stonewall Street and features local high school marching bands, Junior ROTC, steppers, Greek letter fraternities and sororities, social and community service organizations, City and County elected officials and religious and community leaders. A special celebrity guest will serve as the parade marshal. The event is sponsored in part by the City of Charlotte, Food Lion, Coca Cola, Lance, Power 98 FM and V101.9. All top performances will be awarded prize money totaling $6,000.

Second Emancipation Proclamation Discussion
On Saturday, January 19, 2 p.m. at the Main Library, 320 N. Tryon Street
A discussion will be held on MLK, Jr. and the 2nd Emancipation Proclamation. In 1961 and 1962 Dr. King appealed to President Kennedy to issue a Second Emancipation Proclamation outlawing segregation in commemoration of the centennial of Lincoln's proclamation of 1863. He sent Kennedy a 75 page appeal on May 17, 1962 requesting a "national rededication to the principles of the Emancipation Proclamation and for an executive order ending segregation. This program will review the elements of this document and its influence on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Holiday Prayer Breakfast
Monday, January 21, 8 a.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center
The H.L. McCrorey Family YMCA presents its 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom. Tickets are $45 per person and are available at www.ez-tixx.com. Doors open at 7:15 a.m. Click here for details.

'Lincoln and the Emancipation' Lecture
Saturday, January 26, 2 p.m. at the Main Library, 320 N. Tryon Street
Dr. John David Smith will present a lecture "As firmly linked to 'Africanus' as was that of the celebrated Scipio": Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation, and the U.S. Colored Troops. Dr. Smith is the Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he teaches courses on the American South, the Civil War, and African-American slavery and emancipation.

County Announces Closings for MLK Day

Mecklenburg County government offices and agencies will be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

This includes all units of the Department of Social Services, the Tax Office, Elections Office, the Register of Deeds Office and the Land Use and Environmental Services Agency Office.

Mecklenburg County Substance Abuse Center (Detox) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Department of Social Services Care Line ( 704-336-CARE or 704-36-2773) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of suspected abuse or neglect of children, the elderly or disabled adults.

The Health Department will be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.

The Main Library and all library branches will be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.

All Solid Waste administrative offices and facilities will be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, with the exception of Compost Central, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Park and Recreation administrative offices will be closed on Monday, Jan, 21, 2013.

Ray's Splash Planet will be open 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All other facilities will be open normal hours.

Curb It! MLK Holiday Collection Schedule

The City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services will not collect garbage, recyclables, yard waste and bulky items on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21. Collection services will operate on a one-day delay for the entire week with Friday customers receiving service on Saturday, January 26.

To ensure collection, residents are reminded to:

· Bag all garbage before placing it in the rollout cart. Do not overfill the cart.

· Remove food/liquid residue and lids from all recyclable containers before placing them in the recycling cart.

· Separate yard waste into piles small enough for one person to carry.

· Call 311 or visit http://curbit.charlottenc.gov to schedule bulky item collection.

· Place collection items curbside by 6:30 am on collection day. Please do not block the sidewalk.

· Remove garbage and recycling carts from the curb by midnight on collection day.


Residents can find additional item preparation information at http://curbit.charlottenc.gov.

NASCAR Races Back With A Bellamy Brothers Concert Hosted By Dale Jr.

Whisky River kicks off the 2013 NASCAR season with one of the hottest parties in the Queen City, hosted by none other than bar owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. On Wednesday, February 6, Whisky River will kick off the NASCAR season with a performance by The Bellamy Brothers.

All the way from Florida, The Bellamy Brothers are American pop and country music duo David and Homer Bellamy. Their 1976 crossover hit "Let Your Love Flow" was a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. The brothers have charted 20 No. 1 singles and more than 50 hits overall on the country charts. They have worked alongside popular artists such as Dolly Parton, George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Montgomery Gentry.

Tickets are $10 in advance and available at www.thewhiskyriver.com/charlotte. Doors open at 8 pm with 21 and up welcome.

Whisky River is located at EpiCentre, 210 E Trade Street in the heart of uptown Charlotte

Owned by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Whisky River is one of Charlotte, North Carolina's most popular evening entertainment venues in the heart of the vibrant uptown scene at the EpiCentre. With its unpretentious charm and electrifying blend of live music performances, celebrity guests and dynamic DJs spinning everything from rock to country and more, Whisky River is the ideal destination for casual, feel-good fun. So grab your friends and get ready for a revved-up time at Charlotte's favorite place to unwind – Whisky River. Oh, and don't forget to take a ride on the famous, and always entertaining, mechanical bull – if you dare!

Campaign Underway to Get Hope Stout's Wish into Film Production

The legacy of Hope Stout, the spunky, 12 year old redheaded girl from Weddington, NC who asked that her wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation be that all the other kids have their wishes granted, remains today nine years following her death from a rare form of bone cancer. A screenplay about her selflessness and how she brought the Charlotte community together and helped raise more than $1 million in less than 4 weeks to grant those 155 wishes is currently being written by Academy Award-winning screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurty. Ossana won an Oscar for her screenplay in the film Brokeback Mountain and McMurtry is a Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment. The goal is to get Hope's story into production this coming year during the 10th anniversary of her historic wish.

Through a grassroots campaign, the production company for Hope's Wish is working on a goal of at least $50,000 to help with the development costs necessary to get Hope's story to the big screen.

The campaign is being done through Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects. The goal is to raise at least $50,000 by February 2, 2013. Pledges to the campaign are only charged when the goal is reached on or before the campaign deadline. Pledges start at $25 and every donor will be acknowledged in the next printing of the book, Hope's Wish, as well as in the ending credits of the motion picture, which is based on the book. There are other prizes available at higher amounts including being an extra in the film and even serving as associate producer.

Campaign link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/574934611/hopes-wish-a-movie-about-the-life-of-hope-elizabet

"When Shelby and I wrote the book, Hope's Wish, it was to honor our daughter who left this earth far too young as a result of cancer," said Hope's father Stuart Stout. "We knew the tremendous impact Hope made here in Charlotte and with Make-A-Wish, but little did we know her story would attract the attention of Hollywood producers and screenwriters. Producing an independent film, even an inspiring story like Hope's hasn't been easy, but we haven't given up. We have 100 percent faith in God that this will happen."

"Hope didn't back down from the challenge of raising enough money to grant the wishes of all 155 children at Make-A-Wish," Hope's mother Shelby Stout said about the $1.1 million raised in just four short weeks to grant Hope's wish. "She is our inspiration and we will be successful in making this movie about her life a reality. Any donation truly helps and will bring us that much closer to sharing our daughter's legacy with the world."

The amount raised via the Kickstarter campaign will go towards the necessary development costs of the film. An "A" list director and top level actors and actresses will be sought out with what will surely be an excellent script written by the talented Ossana and McMurtry. The Hope's Wish Hollywood-based production team is already talking to several major studios to ultimately fund the production of the film. Having quality talent attached to Hope's Wish will make it easier to accomplish.

The Kickstarter campaign began on December 19, the same day in 2003 when Hope did her now infamous interview with Keith Larson on his morning show on Charlotte's WBT. That interview started the ball rolling towards raising $1 million, the vast majority of which was realized with small donations by thousands of people. The Stouts are hoping her story will have the same result with Kickstarter.

Crime in CMS high schools declines in 2012

An annual report to state lawmakers shows decreases in the rate of reportable violent crimes in schools statewide and in high schools within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The 2011-2012 Consolidated Data Report also contains data about short- and long-term suspensions and expulsions statewide and by district.

"We're pleased to see our rate declining in high schools but we won't be satisfied until it's at zero for all schools," said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. "We want our schools to continue to be safe places that are conducive to learning, and we will continue looking at ways to increase safety at schools."

Overall in CMS, the rate and the number of reportable acts increased for all schools in 2012, rising to 1,552, or 11.33 per thousand from 1,494, or 11.10 per thousand, in 2011.

However, for high schools only, there were 541 such reportable acts in 2011-2012, down from 641 a year earlier. The rate per 1,000 students for high schools also declined to 14.58 from 16.89 a year earlier. It was the third consecutive year of declines in both number and rate for CMS at high schools.

Statewide, the total number of reportable acts of crime and violence declined by 4.3 percent in 2011-2012 to 11,161 from 11,657 a year earlier. The rate of acts per 1,000 students also decreased by five percent, falling to 7.63 in 2011-2012 from 8.03 a year earlier. Schools are required to report 16 offenses that occur on campus or school property, including illegal possession of controlled substances or alcoholic beverages, weapons, assaults, rapes and homicide.

United Way Nearing Goal, Making Final-Month Push

United Way of Central Carolinas has raised $18.6 million of its fundraising goal of $21.2 million for 2012. This puts the annual campaign at 88 percent of goal with just over a month to go.

Based on early returns from corporate campaigns that began in the fall, United Way's projected shortfall was at $1 million as of mid-November, then $750,000 in mid-December. As of Jan. 10, at the current pace of donations, the campaign is projected at $499,963 away from its goal.

Strategies put in motion since the November projections include outreach to businesses new to the region, presentations at the leadership level in key businesses, board members making strategic calls to previous donors, and increased community awareness. The additional steps are closing the gap.

"The good news is that the gap is steadily shrinking - we've made significant progress in each of the last two months," said Jane McIntyre, United Way's executive director. "But with only five weeks left until our traditional Valentine's Day deadline, the current pace would still come up short. We've had a handful of great surprises in the last month - now we need a few more."

Among the recent surprises:

· After hearing news accounts about the campaign shortfall, PNC Bank delivered a check for $50,000 to United Way this week. The check was in addition to its employee campaign.

· In its first gift to United Way since coming to Charlotte, UTC Aerospace Systems contributed $25,000, also over and above its employee campaign.

· QuikTrip Corp., which recently opened a number of gasoline/convenience stores in the region, raised $87,304 in its first campaign for United Way of Central Carolinas - half from employee donations, half from a corporate match.

· Two individual first-time donors - one who recently relocated from out of state, the other a walk-in to United Way's new Cabarrus office in downtown Concord - contributed $20,000.
[note to editors: neither individual wishes publicity by name for this gift]

"Both of the check walk-ins were completely unexpected, great surprises," said McIntyre. "And the fact that new arrivals to the Charlotte region are donating five-figure amounts is a wonderful sign for both our local economy and United Way's direction.

"We're thankful for these new companies, new individuals, and all the consistent, year-over-year donors who we cannot take for granted. To close the remaining gap, we're going to have to keep getting the word out to all three groups."

Also this month, Cato Corp. contributed $300,000 for an endowment for United Way's new Collective Impact initiative to help at-risk children succeed in school and reach graduation - the most generous investment yet in Collective Impact. The endowment will fund professional development and training for employees of United Way partner agencies who provide services in early learning and K-12 after-school and summer academic support programs.

As a United Way Legacy Foundation gift - in which the $300,000 is preserved to generate annual funding in perpetuity - the amount is not counted toward United Way's goal, maintaining the campaign spotlight on funds that can be allocated to local United Way agencies in the current year.

The generosity of more than 50,000 United Way donors last year is helping over 350,000 women, men and children this year, but community needs are rising across United Way's three focus areas: Children & Youth, Housing & Stability, and Health & Mental Health. For details, review United Way's new annual report at www.uwcentralcarolinas.org/2012-annual-report.

For those not already participating in a United Way campaign, or those wishing to give more to help meet the goal, gifts can be made online at www.uwcentralcarolinas.org/give, or by calling 704-371-6392 to receive a pledge card in the mail.


About United Way of Central Carolinas
United Way of Central Carolinas focuses on three vital areas: Children & Youth; Housing & Stability; and Health & Mental Health. Through its 87 partner health and human services agencies, United Way creates long-lasting community change by addressing the underlying causes of problems, working in Anson, Cabarrus, Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Mooresville/Lake Norman and Union. To get help, or learn how you can help, call United Way's 211 hotline, or for more details, please visit www.uwcentralcarolinas.org

Understanding the Affordable Care Act - Rep. Pittenger To Host Seminar

The Affordable Care Act has been debated and litigated but has been largely upheld by the courts. President Obama's health care reform plan is now the law of the land.

To help small business owners, individuals, and healthcare providers prepare for the changes, Congressman Robert Pittenger is hosting an educational seminar on the Affordable Care Act. The purpose is to explain and inform, not to debate.

Mr. Mike Tanner, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, has prepared a very thorough presentation that will answer these pressing questions:
· What does the Affordable Care Act mean to you and your business?
· Will your premiums go up?
· What about new taxes?
· Who will be impacted by the individual and employer mandates?

"While there is much that I oppose in the Affordable Care Act, the reality is that it's the law and each one of us needs to be prepared for the changes," said Congressman Pittenger. "A broad spectrum of organizations, including AARP, Carolinas Healthcare System, and Central Piedmont Community College have previewed the seminar, and we encourage you to attend this free event."

The Affordable Care Act seminar will be held Tuesday, January 29th, 8 a.m., at CPCC's Harris Conference Center. To register, go topittenger.house.gov/AffordableCareActPresentation or call Chris Sullivan at 704-365-6234.

Additional participants include Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte Chamber, Carolina Business Review, Presbyterian Hospital, AARP North Carolina, NFIB North Carolina, and Carolinas Healthcare System.