SonFest success

St. John Neumann Catholic Church held its annual SonFest event last weekend.  Thousands of people attended the two-day festival.  Games, food, crafts, rides, and performances entertained church members and non-church members alike.  The silent auction had hundreds of items on which to bid, and the various cultures found in the community and in the church provided food and entertainment from their home countries.  The ferris wheel was a major attraction for kids of all ages, and it was beautifully lit at night.

“The idea was community building and I think it has done that,” said church member Carol Allan.

“Father Pat came into this church three years ago, and we needed a shot in the arm.  He’s a terrific young guy who’s really put a lot of enthusiasm back into the parish.  And the other thing is we are a different demographic than we were; we are a diverse population,” said Al Tinson, long-time church member.  “We want to invite the community in because we feel like we’re part of the community, but we also wanted within our community to get people to know each other.”

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Juried art show winners announced

The Binders juried art show at Mint Hill Arts held its reception last Friday.  The gallery packed in a large number of guests for snacks, wine, and the announcement of winners.

“Binder’s is appreciative of the opportunity to be involved with the art show and being able to contribute as well as to participate in the judging of the art show,” said a Binders representative.  “A lot of work was beautiful, technically sound, really compelling artwork.”

Of the 95 entries, eight won prizes.  The judges said numerous pieces came just one or two points away from placing, and the original scoring had tied winners.

Honorable Mention Winners:

Chris Shanahan, “Sorrento, View of Vesuvius”

Susan Verville, “She Crab”

Tim Rinehart, “Red Vase”

James Fales, “Je Suis Desole”

Linda Sacra, “Silver Raku”

Winners:

3rd place – Laura Sussman-Randall, “Fly Away Home”

2nd place – Chris Pariano, “Carlyn”

1st place – Tony Billotto, “Strings Attached”

Best – James Fales “Le Printemp Est Arrive”

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Charlotte Flute Choir at June Tunes

June Tunes welcomed the airy notes of the Charlotte Flute Choir last Saturday.  The Town Hall lawn hosted eleven members of the choir and numerous Mint Hill residents in perfect weather as the sun set.  As usual, this June Tunes performance was a perfect time to wind down and enjoy the moment.

Irene Maddox and Joe Little founded the Charlotte Flute Choir in 1964.  The two were the flute section of the Charlotte Symphony at that time, and the original trustees of the Charlotte Flute Association.  Since then the choir has worked locally and internationally.  In 1985 they flew to Belfast, Ireland for a competition in which they placed first for best conductor under Maddox.  They represented North Carolina at the World’s Fair in Tenn. in 1982, and have presented concerts in Columbia and Florence, S.C.

Local performances have included the Festival in the Park, Springfest, the Charlotte Symphony ASID House, the Mint Museum, a prelude for the Summer Pops concerts, and now June Tunes.  The group also performs weddings and receptions, and volunteers time at retirement homes and other non-profit venues.  You can catch the choir every year at the Southern Christmas Show.

The Charlotte Flute Choir does all of their work extracurricularly.  The group is comprised of teachers, nurses, a professor, a dentist, a pilot, an engineer, and others.

Members come from around the Charlotte area, including Fort Mill, Clover, Belmont, Concord, Matthews, and Mint Hill.  They rehearse every Tuesday at the Southern Park Music School on Park Road.  JoeAnn Evans is the choir director, Jeanne Jamison is associate conductor, Janice Mangum is the treasurer, and Mint Hill resident Claire Goodman is the librarian.

Watching the flute choir at June Tunes was a unique experience.  Be sure to catch next week’s performance by the Queen Charlotte Chorus, an all-lady, four-part harmony barbershop-style group chartered in 1965.

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Gift of Adoption helps local family

Last week’s paper reported on the new Gift of Adoption headquarters in Charlotte.

Matthews residents Todd and Cindy Garner know the difference that non-profit groups like Gift of Adoption can make in people’s lives.  The Garner family is comprised of two parents dedicated to creating a family, and their two adopted children, Caleb, 11, and Claire, 9.

The Garner’s adoptions were very different.  They knew Caleb’s birthmother here in N.C., and they adopted him as a baby. Claire was adopted as a six-year-old in the Philippines.  Her adoption cost between $20-25,000 and required months of paperwork and waiting.

They tried to turn in paperwork at the Homeland Security building, but they found out they were not allowed in.  It was due in one week, and they had to mail it.  The paperwork made it on the last day, but was processed a day late.  The Garners contacted their Congressperson, who in turn forced the application through.  The red tape almost delayed them by multiple months and nearly cost them an additional $800.

“Adoption has its own pregnancy, labor, and delivery,” said Cindy.

Claire was born with a cleft palette, and the surgery had some affect on how she forms certain sounds.  She is also learning to speak English, as her native language is Tegalog.  Claire spent the first two years of her life living in a hospital, and the next two years in an orphanage.  The last year she was in the Philippines she lived in a foster home with six other children.  She was six when she joined the Garner family.

“The agency we used for our international adoption was really exceptional.  It was Christian Adoption Services here in Matthews,” said Todd.

“Periodically they have orientation classes for the public and we went to one of those,” said Cindy.  “The adoption agency gave us several website and references to go to if we needed to solicit some help,” and that’s how they found Gift of Adoption, which awarded them $1,500.

“By the time we came down to the end of this adoption – and it was a 13-month long process – you get really weary of the waiting…and dealing with international politics of adoption.  And by this time you’ve already put forth a lot of money.  When Gift of Adoption gave us their check it was a relief because it helped pay for our expenses when our funds were really depleted, and we needed to get to the Philippines to pick her up,” said Cindy.  “We’re just regular people – we’re not wealthy people.”

“For a lot of families I think the hardest part is the money.  Even for people that aren’t looking to adopt themselves they can help other people.  If they think adoption is something they feel strongly about, they can help other people by giving to these organizations like Gift of Adoption,” said Todd.

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Watershed changes

Mecklenburg County Water Quality program manager, Rusty Rozzelle, spoke to the Mint Hill Planning Board June 18 about watershed districts.

“We removed some area from the Goose Creek watershed that did not belong there,” said Rozzelle.  “Really, it’s a minimal change.”

Goose Creek is its own district. Clear Creek and Crooked Creek were combined and are now called the Yadkin district.  The other district in the area is the Catawba.  Watershed maps can be found on the Mecklenburg County website.

“It’s for the betterment of the town and the land development of the town,” said Rozzelle.

He said they did not make the changes to allow someone to develop the land.

The Planning Board will send a favorable recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on the change.

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Property maintenance big issue for some residents

The Board of Commissioners met June 14 to discuss proposed amendments to the town’s code of ordinances regarding housing and property maintenance and the nuisance abatement code.  The amendments set a timeline of action.  The amendment reads “Order by the Governing Body after failure to repair, remove, vacate, or close after one year.”  Property owners have one year to handle issues, and “after the expiration of such one-year period, the Board of Commissioners may enact an ordinance and serve such ordinance on the owner, setting forth” property repair or demolition within 90 days.

Residents spoke during the public comments section of the meeting on this topic and situations that affect their neighborhoods.  Henry Hartz lives in Farmwood where a house was damaged by a fire two and half years ago but remains untouched.

“We just don’t see anything changing.  We think it’s a health hazard, and personally I would like to see a tax reduction as a result of the impact on my property…I would like to encourage your board to do what they can to get this thing taken care of,” said Hartz.

Pat Heffernan is also a neighbor affected by the burnt house in Farmwood.

“This gentleman is jobbing the system and is very good at it…I would say that it’s not fair to the tax payers, it’s not fair to the neighbors, and it’s simply not right that we should be looking at this type of a situation for the amount of time that we’re looking at it, and then to hear legislation that says technically it could be another 15 months.  Now, I don’t know who has the linchpin, but there is one and it needs to be pulled.  I hope the board will find it for us and get this taken care of,” said Heffernan.

Town Manager Brian Welch clarified that if the town needs to demolish a residence, a lien will be put on the owner’s property.

“The town has done everything we can do within the confines of the law,” said Mayor Ted Biggers.  “We will do everything we can as fast as we can within the constraints of the law.  We will continue to push this issue.”

In other matters

  • The board accepted the treasurer’s report and the tax collector’s report.
  • They approved the budget amendments and accepted the budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
  • The town will enter in an inter-local agreement with surrounding fire departments.
  • The petition filed by Sullivan, Byrd & Roupas to construct an office building at 6332 Matthews-Mint Hill Road was approved.
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