• Photos: Coca-Cola 600, part 3

    Kenny Wallace’s No. 78 car pours out smoke as he pulls into pit road during the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord May 27, 2007. (Greg Kahn / Independent Tribune)

    Kurt Busch is knocked out of the race after he wrecks in the backstretch during the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord May 27, 2007. (Greg Kahn / Independent Tribune)

  • Photos: Coca-Cola 600, part 4

    Race down pit road. (Photo by Sam Roberts)

    The #19 Pit crew. (Photo by Sam Roberts)

    The #19 Pit crew. (Photo by Sam Roberts)

    The #2 Miller Lite pit crew. (Photo by Sam Roberts)

  • Casey Mears wins the Coca-Cola 600, his first NASCAR win

    Casey Mears, driver of the #25 National Guard Chevy, wins the Coca-Cola 600, for his first NASCAR win ever.

  • Mears upsets the field, wins Coca-Cola 600

    AP Auto Racing Writer

    CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – With his job presumably on the line, Casey Mears stretched his fuel to the finish line Sunday night to win the Coca-Cola 600 for his first Nextel Cup victory.

    Mears, struggling through his first season at elite Hendrick Motorsports, ran strong all night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, but only took the lead when Tony Stewart ducked onto pit road for a splash of gas.

    Mears and his team gambled and pushed the Chevrolet to the finish, running out of gas moments after taking his first checkered flag. It was Hendrick’s fifth straight win and the ninth in the past 10 Nextel Cup races, but came from the unlikeliest driver.

    And it put a Mears back in Victory Lane on the biggest day in racing for the first time in 16 years.

    Mears is the nephew of Rick Mears, a four-time Indianapolis 500 champion.

    J.J. Yeley, like Mears considered one of the drivers in jeopardy of losing their ride to make room for free agent Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished second for the first-top five finish of his career.

    Kyle Petty was third – his first top five in 10 years – and Reed Sorenson was fourth. Brian Vickers was fifth in the highest finish this season for Toyota.

    In fact, the top five all celebrated their best result of the year.

    Stewart, who seemed to have the win in the bag after Jimmie Johnson gave it away in the pits, wound up sixth.

  • Photos: Casey Mears celebrates in victory lane

    Casey Mears celebrates in victory lane with Champagne after winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord May 27, 2007. (Greg Kahn / Independent Tribune)

    Casey Mears celebrates in victory lane with Champagne after winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord May 27, 2007. (Greg Kahn / Independent Tribune)

    Casey Mear’s crew celebrates on the infield after Mears won his first Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord May 27, 2007. (Greg Kahn / Independent Tribune)

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • A Sunday Walk in the Park

    Catcher Matt Inouye waits on deck, while outfielder Kenny Williams is at bat during the 8th inning of the Easter Sunday game against the Asheville Tourists. The Tourists won the game, 5-0, but the I’s took the series, three games to one.

    When the Intimidators are at bat, a dark-haried figure watches from the press box, which is directly behind home place, just up the stairs.

    Jeff Manto is the hitting coordinator for the Chicago White Sox. He is continuing his journeyman ways as he roves around among the teams in the White Sox organization, working with players, watching for stance, proper posture, and if they swing.

    “At this level, you swing at everything,” he said, in a soft Pennsylvania accent. “As you get higher, you can take your time.”

    He watched intently as the Intimidators took the bat, occasionally making notes in a leather-bound notepad.

    Next to Manto in the booth sat his son, Jeffrey, 10, who was learning how to keep score and stats. Jeffrey would ask about a play and Jeff would tell him how to record it.

    I said earlier that Manto is continuing his journeyman ways with the White Sox organization. He played pro baseball for 16 years, ending his career with the Colorado Rockies in 2000. He was on the road, playing for the Cleveland Indians, the New York Yankees and even a stint in Japan.

    He said he got tired of the road when he retired.

    “I knew then I would be better as a coach and a trainer,” he said.

    Read more about Jeff Manto’s career here.

    Series recap

    Easter weekend was a big start for the Intimidators.

    After a stormy Friday night, which forced the second game with the Asheville Tourists to be rescheduled, the I’s played a doubleheader Saturday night, and swept the Tourists, 3-2 and 4-1, respectively.

    This came after a pitcher’s battle on Opening Night Thursday, that forced 10 innings, which the Intimidators won after infielder Tyler Kuhn’s walk-off single brought in the runner, 1-0.

    Sunday afternoon—Easter Day—has brought the baseball fans out to the Cannon. A later afternoon game, but the die-hards are out in force, although not as exuberant as they were Thursday night, when pitcher Greg Infante was pulling a no-hitter for most of the game.

    But Sunday was a different story.

    The Intimidators made some costly errors in the fourth inning which the Tourists capitalized on, bringing in four runs and another in the fifth inning, and holding the I’s scoreless.

    Tourists win 5-0, but Kannapolis takes the series, three games to one.

    The Intimidators hit the road this week to play a four-game series against the Lexington Legends in Kentucky, then a three-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. They will play against at home Tuesday, April 21.

    – Post by Ben McNeely

  • Opening Day

    The Kannapolis Intimidators took the field Thursday night against the Asheville Tourists on Opening Day.

    And, as Intimidators fan Thelma Honeycutt said, it was a pitchers’ game—for 10 innings.

    Pitchers Greg Infante for Kannapolis and Robinson Fabian for Asheville dueled from the mound, keeping the score even at zero. Despite pop-flys, line drives and Justin Greene called out at third late in the game during sacrifice bunt play, neither team could get a run in.

    Until a wild pitch from Asheville’s Tyler Trice loaded the bases, when Kannapolis left fielder Tyler Kuhn stepped to the plate and hits a single.

    It was enough to bring in short stop Eduardo Escobar to home plate for the win.

    1-0, Kannapolis. The crowd, a little thinned out, but nonetheless vocal, went wild.

    And the season was off to an exciting start.

  • Intimidators Photo Booth

    We set up a camera and a couple of lights in the dug out during the Kannapolis Intimidators’ media day and handed over a remote to the players for them to take their own “photo booth” style pictures while they waited. Not all players on the team took advantage of the option, but those that did showed off their goofy side and had a little fun with it.

    We set up a camera and a couple of lights in the dug out during the Kannapolis Intimidators’ media day and handed over a remote to the players for them to take their own “photo booth” style pictures while they waited. Not all players on the team took advantage of the option, but those that did showed off their goofy side and had a little fun with it.