• Day of Service seeks to fill need in the community

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    When members of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints were planning their Day of Service 2009, they asked Mayors Scott Padgett and Bob Misenheimer what kept them awake at night. The mayors’ response was empty shelves in local food pantries.

    As a way to solve this, church members are partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina for a four-county food drive, running now through Saturday. For Second Harvest, which serves 14 counties in North Carolina and more than 600 agencies, this event will help it fill a greater need.

    “Our emergency pantries are experiencing an increase in requests for assistance of 30 to 40 percent (compared to) the same time last year,” said Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. “This drive by the church could not have come at a better time.”

    More than 50 barrels are now available throughout Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Stanly counties to collect non-perishable foods. All Cabarrus County fire stations will have barrels, and selected Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Dollar General and Bi-Lo stores also have barrels for collection, as does the Independent Tribune office in Kannapolis.

    Saturday will officially be the Day of Service. As those with full barrels and anyone else who wants to donate drive into Roush/Fenway Racing and to the pit stalls on Saturday, volunteers will swarm their vehicles. But the “pit crew” will not fix anything. The crew’s purpose will be to unload the food.

    “(This is) so the driver doesn’t have to do anything,” said Glenn Traill, a project manager for Day of Service.

    If drivers want to then exit the vehicle, they can visit the Roush/Fenway Racing Museum in Concord for free. A percentage of anything bought at the store there will go toward Second Harvest Food Bank.

    For every 1,000 pounds received, the volunteers will tie a banner around the flag pole.

    While the day of service’s theme is racing, the purpose is all about helping the food banks.

    “What matters most is that we restock the food banks,” Traill said. “If we can just come together as a group, the power of the people is paramount.”

    Roush/Fenway Racing is located at 4600 Roush Place in Concord. The Day of Service 2009 will be on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.

  • Cabarrus native hits the stage in ‘Legally Blonde’

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    When Tally Sessions graduated from Central Cabarrus High School in 1993, he was on his way to UNC-Chapel Hill with a teaching fellowship.

    Now, almost 16 years later, the 34-year-old will be on stage in Charlotte in the Broadway production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”

    Sessions has been on tour with the show, based on the 2001 film, since September 2008. 

    The show is about a sorority girl, Elle Woods, who is dumped by her boyfriend for someone more serious. 

    Elle then decides to follow him to law school at Harvard University.

    The rest of the story follows Elle trying to prove herself once she is accepted at Harvard and becomes a top student in her class.

    In the show, Sessions currently plays Aaron, a character he describes as a really pompous law student. Sessions is also the understudy for the role of Emmett, a graduate of Harvard Law and the lead male character. 

    When the show comes to Charlotte next week, he will play Emmett for the first time in the Wednesday night production. 

    His performances next week will also be the first time most of his family and friends will see him in the musical. Sessions’s mother lives in Cabarrus County, and his brother lives in Charlotte.

    As Sessions was growing up, his mother, who used to be a drama teacher at Garinger High School, gave him some of his first stage time. Sessions was also in a middle school play and two productions at Central Cabarrus, “Ten Little Indians,” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”

    “I was active (in theatre) my junior and senior year, but it was not something I thought I’d do for a living,” Sessions said.

    During his sophomore year of college, Sessions began doing college theatre and really began to focus on it in his junior year. Around that time, people began to compliment Sessions and suggest he switch from education to theatre.

    “Tally always did marvelous work in undergraduate productions,” said Ray Dooley, professor in the department of dramatic art at Chapel Hill. “Tally has not only a superb talent, but a generous spirit that comes across whenever he is on stage.”

    Sessions changed his major and was in 15 plays in college before graduating.

    In the fall of 1998, he moved to New York City to find more job opportunities. After eight months of auditioning, he began landing roles.

    “I’ve been able to make a decent living doing what I love to do,” Sessions said.

    Sessions has worked with several regional theaters on the east coast and been a part of several off-Broadway shows. 

    His first Broadway national tour was in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in 2007. “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is Sessions’ second Broadway tour.

    Before appearing in the musical, Sessions had seen the movie once. Now that he is in the show, Sessions has been surprised by the fan base for it.

    “This is probably the show that has the biggest following of any shows I’ve done,” Sessions said. “The audience goes crazy for it, and the reaction is amazing.”

    Even though the plot of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is funny and Sessions said people are sometimes quick to dismiss it as pop theater, he has noticed that Elle’s story and triumph have a huge impact on the audience.

    “What surprised me is how affected people are by it,” Sessions said. “People get such a good feeling from it.”

    The positive feeling and huge following are what Sessions credits for the show’s success despite the economy having a toll on other Broadway shows.

    “We’ve been lucky,” Sessions said. “Our audiences have been pretty packed.”

    In fact, the musical is already planning shows for its second year on tour. Sessions said he will stay on as long as he can, but for now, he is enjoying visiting cities around the country and looks forward to going to Bojangles when he returns to Cabarrus County.

    “Legally Blonde: The Musical” will be at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte from April 21-26.

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152

  • Senior project puts passion for art on display

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    When Central Cabarrus High School senior Heather Ferrell, 18, decided what to do for her mandatory graduation project, she picked a topic that was less about her future career and more about what she enjoys. As a result, Ferrell, who hopes to be doctor, has now designed 15 original tattoos.

    “As much as I hated the project, I’m glad I chose this,” Ferrell said. “It’s really interesting. I’ve been interested in medical stuff, but I’ve taken art classes since the seventh grade.”

    Ferrell has since completed her graduation project, but she is one of about seven students in Cabarrus County who have chosen to go to The Tattoo Shop in Concord for their project. This year was the first time the shop had students work on graduation projects there.

    Ferrell began her project by completing the required paper. She researched and wrote about the history and application of tattoos.

    “I think the most interesting thing is the history,” Ferrell said. “There are reasons for it, like beautification, and I think that rings true today.”

    After completing the paper, Ferrell spent about six to eight of the 15 required hours in the shop watching people get tattoos and examining designs. She spent the rest of her time designing 15 original tattoos, which each took about 45 minutes to an hour.

    Her designs included flat tattoos with no shading, traditional tattoos, which have some shading, fine line tattoos, which are very detailed, tribal tattoos, with bold lines and flat designs, and black and grey tattoos.

    At the end of her design phase, Ferrell then showed her tattoos to her mentor, Terry Garmon, tattoo artist and co-owner of the shop. Upon his advice, she then fixed some of the lines in her tattoos before presenting them to her panel of judges.

    Even though her project is over, Ferrell still returns to the shop because her friend, Doug Wilson, 18, a senior at Jay M. Robinson High School, is now working on his graduation project at The Tattoo Shop.

    Like Ferrell, Wilson wrote a paper on the history of tattoos, but he also focused on the removal of them, something that he learned a lot about.

    “Getting a tattoo removed is worse than getting a tattoo,” Wilson said. “The lasers for removal can get up to 700 degrees.”

    While at The Tattoo Shop, Wilson has spent his time looking at designs with David Lowder, tattoo artist and co-owner of the shop. Besides learning more about the designs, Wilson has learned some of the differences between practicing art on paper or a canvas and on skin.

    “You have to take into account the color of skin,” Wilson said. “You can’t put a tattoo on freckles and moles.”

    Like Wilson, Tyler Starnes, 17, a senior at Mount Pleasant High School, is also working on his graduation project at the shop. Starnes has spent his hours drawing flash designs, which are tattoos already drawn, and learning about the machines for applying tattoos. 

    For his presentation, Starnes will not just design original tattoos like Ferrell and Wilson. He will also apply them to practice skin, which is a thin rubber material that people attach to their or someone else’s arm with a rubber band to practice applying a tattoo.

    “I don’t know how it’s going to feel compared to drawing on paper,” Starnes said.

    Starnes’ experience at The Tattoo Shop will help him in the future because he hopes to become a tattoo artist after he finishes high school. After the graduation project, Starnes said he will need to do an apprenticeship and practice as much as possible.

    Practice is the best way to learn, Garmon said. He and Lowder also told the students how different it is to design for skin.

    “(Everybody’s) skin is different,” Lowder said. “It’s like having different textures of canvas, although the paper doesn’t move.”

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.

  • Novant appeals CMC’s patient tower, despite state’s OK

    By Ben McNeely
    [email protected]
    Novant Health has appealed the state’s approval for CMC-NorthEast to build a new eight-story patient tower at the Concord hospital.

    The Health Service Regulation division gave CMC-NorthEast, and its parent company Carolinas HealthCare System, the green light in late February. 

    The Winston-Salem-based health care system filed its appeal on March 27. In the appeal filing, Novant said the new patient tower would take away patients from its facilities in the area.

    Novant owns and operates Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and Presbyterian Hospital-Huntersville. It also has nine practices that are a part of Novant Medical Group in Cabarrus County.

    “We are disappointed that Novant has chosen to appeal this project that has already been approved by the state,” said CHS spokesman Scott White, in a statement. “The approved project at CMC-NorthEast does not pose a competitive threat to Novant … All this appeal will accomplish is to delay a project that the state agrees is needed and that has the widespread support of Concord/Cabarrus County and nearby communities.”

    The $264 million patient tower and renovation project will add about 425,000 square feet of new space to CMC-NorthEast.

    The project will proceed in phases, with a new second floor of the surgery center scheduled to open in 2011. The eight-story patient tower, which will replace hospital rooms dating back to the 1930s, will be completed by mid-2013 and a renovation of the Mariam Cannon Hayes Family Center is scheduled for January 2014.

    This is part of the $650 million commitment that Carolinas HealthCare System made to upgrade facilities when CMC-NorthEast merged with the Charlotte-based health care giant in 2006.

    The new patient tower would replace about 218 beds that are antiquated. The hospital has a full complement of 457 beds, but some of those are in older buildings on the hospital campus. About 66 beds do not have a bathroom in the room.

    The patient tower has been on the minds of hospital executives, even before the merger. It was included on NorthEast Medical Center’s 2015 Plan, a facilities planning document that spelled out what would be needed to meet patient care by the year 2015, prior to the merger.

    Novant pursued a proposal to build Rowan Regional Medical Center South for the Kannapolis region, but it was rejected by the state in 2008. 

    The state, instead, approved CMC-Kannapolis, a proposed healthplex by CHS to be built on Lane Street.

    • Contact reporter Ben McNeely: 704-785-4932.

  • For many, plant festival marks the start of Spring

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    About 2,000 more people than last year were expected at the Cabarrus County Master Gardener Volunteer Association’s 4th Annual Herb and Plant Festival on Saturday.

    “The parking lot was full at nine this morning, and that’s never happened, so I know it’s bigger than last year,” said Bill Hickok, chairman of the event.

    The event was held at Piedmont Farmers’ Market on Winecoff School Road. Some of the people there had reasons other than the sunny weather for the larger crowd.

    Robert Davis, of Kannapolis, visited the festival at for the second time and noticed a difference in the amount of people this year.

    “I’m thinking more people, this year, are thinking about growing their own vegetables,” Davis said. “With the economy, I think a lot of people are budget conscious. You grow a pepper, and you can go to the grocery store and see one for more than your whole plant costs.”

    Davis was not one of the new gardeners at the show. He and wife, Cathy Davis, came to buy more tomato, squash and other edible plants and herbs for their garden.

    Even though they have experience gardening, Davis and his wife spoke with some of the farmers or master gardeners at the festival about the plants. 

    The exchange between shoppers and gardeners was one of the benefits of shopping at the festival instead of at a store, according to Nancy Patel, of Charlotte.

    “I went to the master gardeners, because they dig up the plants from their gardens, and they can tell you (about it),” Patel said. “If you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, they have no idea.”

    Patel also said she has confidence the plants and herbs she buys at the festival will grow well at her home, because they have been growing in local soil. 
    She tries to shop for plants and herbs at the festival before going anywhere else.

    “This is my first stop in the spring for plants,” Patel said. “It’s like coming to school because you get to learn so much.”

    While there were experienced gardeners, like Patel, who had been to the festival before, some people were buying their first plants and herbs.

    “I got sweet basil,” said Ian Hedrick, of Concord. “I’m going to see if I can finally find my green thumb.”

    Hedrick is attempting to grow her first herb garden. While she did not ask the master gardeners for advice, Hedrick is counting on people at home or the Internet for tips if she struggles with it. 

    That is fine with Hickok. He said he enjoys seeing people getting excited about the plants. 

    “We sell what we (grow), and we give it all away to four high schools,” Hickok said. “We do this for the education. (My hope) is that people find a new plant, something new or something they’ve always wanted.”

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.

  • Council budgets $10,000 for log cabin restoration

    By Jonathan E. Coleman
    [email protected]
    Over the past few years, restoration projects at the historic post office site on Robinson Church Road have been the norm., The most recent addition, a log cabin believed to be nearly 150 years old, has been sitting on the site for several months, but has yet to be placed on its foundation and restored.

    Monday, the Harrisburg Town Council voted to include $10,000 in the 2009-10 budget for continued work on the cabin.

    Despite the vote for additional money, some council members expressed concerns about the project.

    “One of the biggest complaints I’m hearing from people is how bad it looks out there,” said councilman Bob Scaggs. “I think if we could turn it around quickly, we might stop hearing that from people who drive by it every day.”

    Councilman Bill Williams, who has long been an advocate of preserving Harrisburg’s history and a strong supporter of the post office recreational site, said once the foundation is set and the building secure, the council would need to consider how much of a restoration it would take on at the cabin.

    “Once we get in on the foundation, there are two ways we could go,” he said. “One, the public doesn’t go inside, and we stop short of that. The other would be to make it safe for the public to go inside.”

    Several members were interested in getting feedback from the Harrisburg Historical Society about what role the group might take in future restoration projects.

    “Let’s get it structurally sound on the foundation and then let the historical society determine how much they want to put in to keep it up cosmetically or to whatever degree they see fit,” said councilman Jeff Redfern.

    Town to negotiate with COG on administrator search
    More than two months after terminating the contract of their town administrator, members of Harrisburg’s Town Council continued the discussion about how to best find his replacement.

    In an effort to help provide some direction in the search, the council voted Monday to begin negotiations with Centralina Council of Governments to help assist in the search.

    Mayor Tim Hagler, who also serves on the town’s personnel committee, told the board the personnel committee wanted some direction about when and where to advertise the position, which was vacated earlier this year when the council voted to terminate the contract of then-administrator Joel Davis less than six months after he was hired.

    Hagler also said the committee would like to get more feedback in terms of contracting options for the position.

    Councilman Michael Hart suggested working with COG, which aided in the search that produced Davis last year.

    “I don’t believe that there is anyone on council or on staff to properly vet someone of that nature,” Hart said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into that. 

    “The comment that I got from COG was that they were not as involved as they typically are. For example, the last few interviews we had here, they would like to have been involved in those, in addition to helping with contracts.”

    While he did not elaborate, Hagler said a new administrator’s contract would look different than that offered to Davis.

    “We would not accept a contract like that again, and obviously there would be some kind of probationary period,” he said.

    Council hoped to get more information at its May meeting about the process moving forward and talk more specifically about what the cost to the town would be if working with COG as opposed to another agency.

    • Contact editor Jonathan E. Coleman: 704-789-9105.

  • Board to consider revised busing plan

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    Cabarrus County Schools has announced that the three-tier busing plan, presented to the board of education last week, has since been revised, proposing that most elementary schools would start and end earlier than the original version.

    The modified plan now has most elementary schools and Long School running from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    In its original form, high schools and four elementary schools would run from 7:15 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. This first tier has not changed much in the new proposal except that the four to six elementary schools would run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and high schools would be from 7:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

    In the revision, middle schools, Performance Learning Center and Glenn Center programs would run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., instead of middle school students being in class from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Also, the new Early College High School program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.

    After the original plan was presented last week, board of education members received many comments from the community asking for alternatives to the plan, the school system said. The board will discuss this new version at the April 23 work session at Concord Middle School.

    Ronnye Boone, director of public relations for the school system, said many of the suggestions from the public were about younger children starting and ending earlier in the day. She also said the four to six schools starting in the first tier have still not been announced.

    While there were concerns about the elementary school times, many of the board members and parents in the community have complimented several aspects of the plan. One of the advantages of the plan is that it would put teacher assistants in the classroom more so that they do not have to also drive school buses. It could save the school system about $4 million in capital outlay over the next three to five years and increase bus safety with the savings, and it would add 30 minutes to the elementary school day.

    There are many components that have been mentioned, but Boone said it is important for the community to know it is still a proposal.

    “(The board hasn’t) voted on it yet, and it’s still up for discussion, so there may be revisions on this as well,” Boone said.

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.

  • Brother, sister duo creating a buzz with N.C. logo campaign

    By Robin L. Gardner
    [email protected]
    What is the one thing our state is missing? If you ask 13-year-old Ruth Jackson and her 11-year-old brother J.J., from Harrisburg, they would say a state logo.

    These two enterprising kids have set up a Web site and started a battle to get North Carolina its very own logo. 

    They noticed other states had logos. South Carolina had one with a palmetto tree and a crescent moon. “Why shouldn’t we have one?”

    They came up with the idea after their “Grandpa Baker” had taken the two on a summer vacation, exploring 12 North Carolina lighthouses. Their grandfather wanted to share his knowledge with the kids. 

    “He would have been thrilled,” the children’s mom, Beth Jackson, 45, said.

    “My father had a heart condition since he was young, but absolutely loved the North Carolina coast. He loved the lighthouses. His time in the Coast Guard had meant a lot to him. He was only in the Coast Guard for four years, because of his heart,” Beth said.

    It was because of that condition that he had to leave. Beth explained that her father really appreciated service to our country.

    “He saw the beauty of the lighthouses and that each one was unique. It was always kind of calling the men home, it was a beacon,” Beth said.

    “Two summers ago, he took us to see all the lighthouses, well not all of them, but most of them. They were so pretty,” Ruth said.

    “I remember meeting my grandfather’s Coast Guard buddies. I got see a lot of them. He really enjoyed that,” said J.J.

    After the summer vacation, “Grandpa Baker” passed away. 

    That’s when the idea for the logo came about.

    “After he died, we thought it would be a great way to remember him. It would also be a great symbol for North Carolina,” Ruth said.

    The kids wanted to honor their grandfather and his love of lighthouses with a project promoting his interest. They started an online business, and a petition to adopt a logo as the official state logo.

    Ruth and J.J. had the perfect logo in mind. 

    Family friend Mark Coyle, a state law enforcement officer, had designed and copyrighted a logo of a lighthouse in 2004. 

    “I came up with the about eight years ago while I was driving on the interstate. I saw the South Carolina logo plenty of times. I then saw it on a car registered to North Carolina, and my brain stated to spin,” said Coyle.

    He drew several different versions on a napkin, until he found on that he felt was the essence of the state. Then Coyle submitted the drawing to Washington, D.C., and trademarked it.

    “It’s not about the logo. It’s about the concept behind it. It boils down to a state pride issue. Pride and loyalty to your state,” Coyle said.

    He thought the logo celebrates a beautiful blue-sky day at the coast. Together, the Jackson kids and Coyle partnered to create “NC Logo, LLC.”

    “I’m more a consultant. They will come to me with ideas and I give them my opinion,” Coyle said.

    “I think it is wonderful for them to understand parts of a business. Obviously, you have gross and net. The kids know their inventory. They help with shipping and handling. They were very much involved in what it would be, and how to the pricing. Of course, they had help with that. It’s a wonderful thing for them,” Beth said.

    They are going to donate a portion of profits from the apparel to a charity for kids, hopefully dealing with heart issues. They have already approached a couple charities. 

    The Web site sells merchandise featuring the logo. They also have a link to a petition for people to sign in support of the official logo. The kids hope to present the petition, with thousands of signatures, to the state legislature and make their logo the official state logo. 

    Their Web site is http://www.NCLogo.com

    • Contact reporter Robin L. Gardner: 704-789-9140.

  • More stimulus money slated for Cabarrus

    By Karen Cimino Wilson
    [email protected]
    Cooperative Christian Ministry of Concord officials hope to receive some of the $55,778 earmarked to help Cabarrus County residents hit hard by the economic downturn.

    The ministry has had a 300 percent increase in the number families it helps in the last year, said Ed Hosack, executive director of the Cooperative Christian Ministry.

    “The needs in our area are tremendous,” Hosack said. “There’s been no slow down since the first of the year.”

    U.S. Congressman Larry Kissell announced last week that $620,535 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will come to North Carolina’s Eighth District through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. 

    The money can be used for a variety of services including feeding and shelter programs and food pantries. Cooperative Christian Ministry of Concord operates six pantries. Two of the six are new to the ministry. One was opened last month in southern Cabarrus County. The ministry also helped keep the Kannapolis Food Pantry at Westpoint Baptist Church from shutting down. 

    “Our households requesting food assistance was up 117 percent,” Hosack said.

    The money also can be used to help pay mortgage and utility payments to prevent evictions, and to assist in the transition from shelters to stable living conditions. 

    Hosack said more Cabarrus County residents are asking for help paying their mortgage or rent.

    “Utility assistance used to be the major type of assistance people were seeking,” Hosack said. “That’s shifted to rent or mortgage assistance. The shift has certainly pushed the dollars higher and higher for us.”

    The objective of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program is to help the areas with the greatest need as quickly and effectively as possible, Kissell said in a statement about the appropriation.

    “I am so glad that stimulus money is going directly to our communities. Helping to better our emergency response systems is just one of the reasons I voted for the Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Kissell said. 

    Cabarrus County has also received $6.5 million from the federal stimulus package for road improvements to Morehead Road, located just south of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and to Interstate 85. A three-quarter-mile stretch of Morehead Road will be moved farther south and widened, making more room for vendor trailers along the speedway property. The interstate will be repaved from N.C. 73 to U.S. 601/29.

    Cabarrus Community Health Centers Inc. also received $159,532 from the stimulus package. The money will be used to help the organization serve a growing number of uninsured patients. 

    The center has had nearly a 50 percent increase in patient visits to 9,455 in the last.

    • Contact Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.

  • Cotton economy — Part III

    By Janet Morrison
    Did you know?

    Cotton gins were made of dangerous machinery.  William Eugene Alexander related the following story in “Some Sketches of Rocky River Church and Vicinity,” to illustrate that point.  He wrote, “A rather tragical thing occurred here when James F. Harris, (Major or Little Jim) then about 16 years old, had the misfortune to get his arm cut off in the Harris gin.  It happened when he stopped at the gin on his way home from school.  He became quite proficient with his other arm, so that he could plow, play ball, and drive a car.”

    Three cotton gins were in operation in Township No. 1 (known then as Rocky River Township) in 1879, according to the 1880 US Census.

    John McAmy Wilson Alexander owned a water-powered cotton gin on Reedy Creek.  Alexander employed three males over 16 years of age the previous year.  He reported that an average workday consisted of ten to twelve hours and an average day’s wage was fifty cents.  The value of the product of Alexander’s gin was $350.  Alexander was the census enumerator for Township 1 in 1880.  He ran for State Senate on the Democratic Party ticket that fall.

    McA. Harris & Company operated a cotton gin in Township No. 1, but the location and mode of power were not given in the census.  Like J.M.W. Alexander, McAmy A. Harris reported paying an average wage of fifty cents for a ten- to twelve-hour workday.  Harris employed five males over 16 years old.

    J.N.D. Wilson’s cotton gin on McKee Creek was still in operation in 1880.  He reported the same length or workday and average wage, so that must have been the going rate in the area.  He employed four males over the age of 16 and reported the value of his gin’s product was $400.  Wilson also owned and operated a flouring and grist mill on McKee Creek.

    By 1880, W.J. Black had bought Joseph R. Neisler’s cotton factory in Township No. 1.  The Neisler Cotton Factory will be the subject as a future “Did You Know?” two-part series. 

    J.M. Odell bought the original cotton factory in Concord in 1880 and enlarged it.  The decade of the 1880s was the beginning of cotton industrialization in Cabarrus County – an industry that would flourish here for the next 100 years.

    In the mid- to late-1880s, the Concord newspapers were filled with news about the cotton industry.  By then, many cotton mills were in operation in Cabarrus County and most farmers were dependent upon good cotton crops and a fair price at the market.

    The Feb. 25, 1886, Concord Times reported that with the recent addition of more looms, the Odell Factory had 278 looms turning out 13,000 yards of plaids alone on a daily basis.

    The “Harrisburg Items” column in the December 2, 1886, Concord Times reported that Eugene Culp’s arm got caught in “the gin” the week before, but the article did not say whose cotton gin.  Dr. J.R. Wilson was able to treat Culp’s hand and arm and he was reportedly doing well.

    J.D. Harris offered to give five acres of land for a cotton factory in Harrisburg, according to the “Harrisburg Items’ column in the May 5, 1887, Concord Times.  He was quoted as saying, “We must keep up with Charlotte.”  Such a factory was never built.

    Newspapers in the fall of 1887 reported friction between farmers and cotton buyers as farmers did not think they were getting a fair price for their crops. 
    The “Harrisburg Items” column in the October 7, 1887, Concord Times voiced a fear that Cabarrus County would lose its good name if the conflict continued.

    Part IV in this “Did You Know?” series about the local cotton economy will look at the decade of the 1890s, when the Concord newspapers were filled with news about the cotton industry.

    Cabarrus Reborn:  A Historical Sketch of the Founding and Development of Cannon Mills Company and Kannapolis, by James Lewis Moore and Thomas Herron Wingate, 1940.

    “Some Sketches of Rocky River Church and Vicinity,” by William Eugene Alexander, 1948.

    Tenth Census, Cabarrus County, North Carolina – 1880, transcribed by Betty L. Krimminger, 2003.

    Various newspapers as cited.

  • Concord approves up to $1.5 million for Morehead projects

    By Karen Cimino Wilson
    [email protected]
    Concord city officials want taxpayers to know the city has not given Lowe’s Motor Speedway or owner Bruton Smith one penny of the $30 million in tax incentives it offered in 2007 in exchange for road improvements near the speedway.

    But Concord will kick in $1.5 million to help pay for improvements to Morehead Road, which is located to the south of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

    The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to help with the project, which was awarded $3.5 million in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in March.

    The federal funding would not pay for the entire proposed $5.3 million project. The federal money would pay for widening and moving a three-quarter-mile stretch of Morehead Road away from the speedway’s southern edge, making more room for vendor trailers along the speedway property. 

    It would not pay for a side road that moves vehicles and pedestrians under Morehead Road during speedway events. It also cut out fencing to reduce the number of pedestrians crossing Morehead and funnel them toward to entrances to the speedway. And the federal money also removed plans to widen the entire road to four lanes and add sidewalks.

    Concord’s $1.5 million contribution to the project adds all but the sidewalk plans back into the project, said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. 

    “We think it will improve traffic flow for everybody,” Padgett said. 

    The city’s $1.5 million contribution to the Morehead project will be paid for using the $500,000 annual landfill host fee paid by Allied Waste to the City of Concord. Allied Waste trucks use Morehead Road to access the landfill so it’s a fitting use of the money, Padgett said.

    Concord City Council member Jim Ramseur made the motion to rescind the city’s original $30 million offer to Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials. The total incentive package — including contributions from Cabarrus County and the state — would have been $80 million spread over a 40-year period.

    “This is my way of letting everybody know that, that is not a contract that is out there anymore,” Ramseur said. “Nothing was ever expended toward that.”

    Ramseur said he supported spending the $1.5 million to improve the project because it will improve traffic congestion all year.

    “It’s just a good fit to be able to expand that project into something that is better for our folks and for the people coming into town, too,” Ramseur said.

    Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials could not be reached for comment. 

    • Contact Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.

  • Covenant students take part in Serve-A-Thon

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    Just to the right of the entrance inside the Community Free Clinic, there is a sign that says, “Kids Corner,” but the area previously had a table with a puzzle on it and some books. Now, thanks to the help from 11th grade students at Covenant Classical School last week, the clinic hopes to have a better area for children to wait for their parents.

    Students in all grade levels from the Covenant Classical School participated during the last week in the second annual Serve-A-Thon, a fundraiser that raises money for the 10 percent gap in tuition costs. 

    Community Free Clinic was one of the locations students served, and it will also reap the benefits of the money raised for Serve-A-Thon. Five percent of the money raised will be donated to Community Free Clinic and five percent will go to Cooperative Christian Ministry. 

    This year’s fundraising goal was $23,000. Because students exceeded it, Michele Ward, director of development for the school, said the students raised enough money for Serve-A-Thon to most likely donate $2,500 total to both organizations.

    On Tuesday, almost all of the 11th grade students from the school cleaned blinds and windows in the waiting room, applied chalkboard paint to a wall for children to draw on and cleaned the children’s area. The goal of the area is to have a place where children can watch videos, read and play games in the area.

    “We know we have problems with kids at night keeping them occupied,” said Venetia Skahen, director of the Community Free Clinic. “I think it’s a great idea for the (Covenant students) because it gives them exposure of giving back, and that’s important for all young people.”

    Many of the students who were serving at the clinic said they enjoyed giving back to the community. Getting out of school for it was not too bad either.

    “It’s a good way for us to take a break and help our community,” said Natalie Benet, 16. “It’s teaching us not to just focus on ourselves and to work together.”

    Doing the service as a class made the experience more enjoyable for the students because they were able to do it with their friends.

    “It doesn’t feel like work,” said Megan Cross, 16.

    At the same time on Tuesday, third, fourth, fifth and 12th grade students from the school were spreading bales of pine straw throughout North Cabarrus Park as part of their role in Serve-A-Thon.

    Working at a park she usually visits made the service more meaningful for Becca Reese, 11. The Serve-A-Thon was so important to her that she collected between $200 and $500 from her friends and family.

    “We need to save our economy and help our parks so kids can have fun,” Reese said.

    Other Serve-A-Thon events in the last week included students performing for residents at Taylor Glen, Concord Place Assisted Living and Coltrane LIFE Center, and students cleaning the parking lot and grounds at Cooperative Christian Ministry.

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.

  • Parents unhappy with busing plans impact on schedules

    By Jessica Groover
    [email protected]
    A 4 p.m. release time for elementary school is too late, said several parents about a three-tier busing plan the Cabarrus County Board of Education reviewed at a meeting last week.

    As it was first proposed, the plan calls for high schools and four unnamed elementary schools to start at 7:15 or 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m. Middle school students would be in school from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m, and most elementary schools would start at 9:15 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. 

    With these times, the elementary school instruction time would be 30 minutes longer, teacher assistants who drive buses would be in the classroom more and bus drivers would work full time. The plan would also allow for 50 fewer buses, saving the school system about $4 million in capital outlay.

    While some parents have said they are happy that teacher assistants will be in the classrooms more and that the school system is saving money, they are worried about elementary school students being at school too late and getting off the buses in the dark.

    “Their focus time is over by 3 p.m.,” said Christina Brown, president of the Parent Teacher Organization for Carl A. Furr Elementary School. “I have two children, and by 3 in the afternoon, they’re finished. They need some downtime.”

    While she agreed that high school students should begin and end their day first, Brown said that middle school students should start and end later than elementary school students, because they need more sleep during that period of growth.

    Sue Abbate, president of the Parent Teacher Organization for Charles E. Boger Elementary School, agreed that elementary school students should not be released at 4 p.m., although she thought they should be the ones to start first.

    “A lot of young kids end up waking up early in the morning,” Abbate said. “The high schools should start next (at 8:15) so they can be out to work or have extracurricular activities. A lot of the middle school students are not working and don’t have as many sports.”

    Both Abbate and Brown said a concern they have is that working parents would have to find child care services before and after school if elementary school students start their day at 9 a.m. 

    This concern was one that associate superintendent Jim Amendum addressed at the meeting last week. He also presented a list of advantages and concerns that principals provided in an e-mail survey.

    Besides having the teacher assistants in the classroom more, the advantages included the increased elementary instructional day, capital outlay savings, less driver turnover, athletics not being affected, savings to be used for cameras on buses and a decrease in tardiness at elementary schools.

    The concerns included those about childcare, a late release for elementary students, the impact on the staff who have children, possible loss of Kids: Plus revenue, losing morning hours to instruct elementary students and the start time being too early for high school students.

    Greta Wallace, treasurer for the Parent Teacher Student Organization at Harris Road Middle School, could relate to the concern about the early start for high school students as a mother of two high school students and one middle school student.

    “(My children in high school) leave at five to 7 a.m. to go to high school, and I know they don’t function that well in the morning,” Wallace said.

    She proposes elementary schools start first, then middle schools and for high schools to begin and end last.

    While parents’ proposed schedules were different, their compliments about the plan were the same. They were happy that teacher assistants would be in the classrooms more and not also driving buses.

    “As a substitute teacher, I don’t know when the assistant is going to get in, and they’re so stress when they get there,” said Susan Ferris, member of the Coltrane-Webb Parent Teacher Community Organization. “We need the assistants in the classrooms.”

    Many of the concerns and compliments parents provided about the busing plan have been heard by school board members, said Holly Blackwelder, chair of the board of education.

    “These are the same questions the board has as well,” Blackwelder said. “Just because we’re discussing it doesn’t mean a decision has been made. The process has just started.”

    Blackwelder said many people have told her they liked the plan but were worried about the elementary school start and end times. She said the board will hear several alternatives and receive more information at the board’s next work session on April 23 at Concord Middle School.

    Last week, Blackwelder asked to receive feedback from the parent council that meets with superintendent Barry Shepherd before the board votes on the busing plan. The parent council will meet on April 22.

    • Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152

  • With recent rains, water restrictions loosened

    By Karen Cimino Wilson
    [email protected]
    Area cities will relax local water restrictions after several months of precipitation levels that have improved the drought conditions that have faced the area for years, according to Concord city officials.

    Residents of Concord, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Landis and Mount Pleasant will be allowed to water their lawns three day per week beginning today. Lawn irrigation will be allowed only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All other restrictions will become voluntary. 

    Those who violate the specified lawn irrigation days watering rule will receive written notice of the violation and will be fined. 

    Local government bodies will allow the following activities anytime: 

    • Filling, operating or topping off of ornamental fountains;
    • Residential car washing or washing down outside areas. Both activities require the use of a hand-held hose or pressure washer, both equipped with a spring-loaded nozzle.
    • Watering trees, flowers, shrubs, ornamental plants and vegetable gardens for plants.
    • Automated irrigation services may be installed and activated.
    • Filling swimming pools by permit. Topping off of previously filled pools is still acceptable at any time.
    • All customers are allowed to use pressure-washing devices.

    The cities are maintaining restrictions on when lawns can be irrigated and using water pricing to promote conservation. Irrigation creates the single largest demand for water during spring and summer months, according to Concord city officials. 

    Research shows that properly maintained lawns only need one inch of water per week to thrive, and it is best to water during evening and early morning hours.

    The water-use restrictions do not apply to customers using wells or ponds for irrigation. 

    • Contact reporter Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.

  • Library programs focus on helping during tough economic times

    By Robin L. Gardner
    [email protected]
    The Cabarrus County Public Library in Kannapolis is trying to help the community wade through the bad economic times by offering programs designed to help stretch our dollars.

    The library started all this with a coupon box. Branch Manager Terry Prather wanted a coupon club, but settled with boxes on a red cart for the public to exchange and donate coupons with each other. It quickly took off.

    “We have folks mailing in coupons for the boxes,” Prather said. “We would like to do more, but it depends on the public approval. 

    “We are seeing, because of the economic downturn, an increase in book circulation, or checking out books, and more usage of computers, and the Internet. What they are looking for is how to search or find jobs, how to file for unemployment and they are trying to keep in touch with their families, asking us how to get on computers, and how to make a resume.” 

    The library has become the place the community is turning to for help. 

    “I have talked to recently unemployed people who come to read our newspaper and online papers,” Prather said, “I think these simple things that people may not be aware of are the things a public library should be doing.” 

    About 40 people, mostly women, attended a program last week on using coupons to lower grocery bills. 

    Gwyn Probst explained the ins and outs of saving money with coupons. While many in the audience seemed like experts, most were learning information for the first time. Using terms like “dnb” (do not double) and “bogo” (buy one get one free), Probst took the audience deep into the world of the coupon saver.

    “I am not an expert. I have just done it. I’ve talked to people who have done it better, and that is how you learn,” Probst said.

    She keeps her coupons organized by categories in a trading card notebook. She explained it’s easier to see what you have, and easier to keep it organized.

    “But whatever works for you is great,” Probst said. 

    You can use coupons for anything from food and diapers to restaurants and clothes. 

    Probst ran down the who, what and wheres to coupon saving:

    • Who – everyone wants to save money.
    • What – diapers, food, restaurants, clothes, household items, car washes, cat and dog food.
    • Why – to save money.
    • When – the best time to use a coupon is during a sale or when they are doubled or tripled by various stores.
    • Where – you can find coupons in the Sunday papers, coupon exchanges, doctors’ offices, drug stores and online sites (free and pay). 

    Probst shared her tools of the trade with stories of experiences with Catalina coupons (the coupons grocery stores stuff into your hands with the receipt), blinkie coupons and bogos. 

    “We eat a lot of cereal. I didn’t have any Kellogg’s coupons, but they were on ‘bogo.’ There was shredded wheat cereal, on ‘bogo’ at Harris Teeter for $3.42 for two boxes. Which makes it $1.71 per box. That is still a good price. You can spend four or five bucks for a box of cereal,” Probst said, “While perusing the aisle, I noticed those blinkie things (coupon dispensers on the shelves). There was a blinkie right in front of the cereal. So I took one. The coupon was for one box of Kellogg’s cereal at one dollar off. That makes the cereal 71 cents.”

    Probst explained you can use one coupon per box that you purchase. She bought 10. 

    Julie Smith, 38, and Sonya Allman, 41, are Kannapolis teachers who had a lot of information to share with the group. They added much to the discussion. Allman also works part time with Food Lion. 

    “I spend two or three hours a week at most cutting coupons. If you ask my husband, it’s a lot,” said Smith. 

    “I leave coupons hanging around Food Lion. I leave them in the stores. I’m the coupon fairy,” Allman said. 

    “I know coupon addicts who will buy things to save the money because they have a coupon. I’m like, ‘Are you gonna use it?’ and they’re like, ‘No.’ I have spent five dollars and saved $40,” Smith said.

    Jennifer Pagan, 36 and single, is a bit skeptical of the time and energy it takes to coupon shop. 

    Smith’s advice to Pagan is to “go simple.” Check the Sunday paper for coupons to start. 

    “The overall concept of what I learned today is that I need to spend the time. I have to make the time to save money. It’s not that I don’t have the time,” Pagan said, “I don’t want to have to go to five different stores, though. I just want to go to like two stores and be done with it.”

    “This is a process you. You learn it over time,” Probst said.

    • Contact reporter Robin L. Gardner: 704-789-9140