Korean War Veterans Memorial dedication set for late fall

[simple_slideshow] The dedication ceremony for the Korean War Veterans Memorial has been postponed.  Originally set for July 27 in honor of the 1953 armistice, the ceremony will be some time in November.  A final date has not yet been set; organizers are trying to plan around Veterans Day events.

Some festivities will take place as scheduled for July 27.  A Korean children’s choir is set to perform, and colonels from South Korea and the mayor will be present.

The center fountain is near completion.  The water tank is being manufactured to recycle its water and fit in the fountain.

“It’s a work of art, believe me,” said Don Putnum of the Korean War Veterans Association.

They continue to raise funds for the project, which costs $150,000.  Two-thirds of that cost is a loan, leaving the other $50,000 to cover granite, plumbing, electrical work, and brickwork.  The main setback is the granite for the flooring.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Putnum.  Professionals he talked to in the field are surprised at how quickly they have managed to turn their plans of a memorial into a reality.  “It should take 10-12 years to do what we did in six.”

The memorial broke ground June 2010.  Since then, granite blocks for the main sign and dedicated pavers have been engraved, brick walls have been built, and pillars and statues have been erected.

This work honors the 789 North Carolinians who were killed or missing in action during the Korean War.  The memorial is built to “ensure that the soldier’s sacrifice will always be remembered,” and to commemorate what is called the “forgotten war.”

Adjacent to the KVWM will be the Armed Forces Museum and Archives of the Carolinas.  It will showcase the five branches of the United States military: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.  The museum will cover 250 years of military history through artifacts and interactive learning, an much of the history will focus on the Carolinas.

Like the KVWM, AFMAC is selling granite pavers to honor a veteran or a member of the armed forces, and to support the museum.  Pavers range in size, and prices start at $200.  The museum is expected to break ground in 2014.

Photos by Amanda Waters.


Commissioners to discuss saving Bain building

Commissioners raised concerns over the fate of Bain Elementary School’s auditorium at last Thursday’s meeting.  The three present commissioners made a quorum in the absence of Mayor Ted Biggers and Commissioner Mickey Ellington.

An environmental and structural study was done on Bain’s auditorium and found asbestos and lead based paints, as well as significant structural problems.  The Board is interested in saving the building as a piece of Mint Hill’s history, and may find help through the Mint Hill Historical Society and the Department of Cultural Resources.  This issue may generate public interest, and with the absence of the mayor and a commissioner, it was deferred until the next meeting scheduled for August 16. Continue reading


Fire department proposes new station


Mint Hill residents had a lot to say last Thursday about the fire department’s proposition to build a second fire station.  They packed the John M. McEwen Assembly Room for the Board of Commissioners meeting to learn about the new fire station proposal and to voice their opinions.

It was standing room only as Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department board of directors member, Roger Martin, and fire chief, John Phillips, presented the plan for the new station to be built at the corner of Arlington Church Road and Cabarrus Road.  The plan was presented to the board as a zoning petition.

The new station is expected to be at 14900 Cabarrus Road.  The five acres of land is currently owned by Edith Williams.  The building will be between 5-7,000 square feet, allowing for a possible expansion to 10,000 square feet.  That would make it one-third to half the size of the current building.  It will be able to hold up to four trucks.  The lot is wedge-shaped, with 920 frontage feet along Cabarrus Road and 620 feet along Arlington Church Road and driveways on both roads.

The rezoning process required a neighborhood meeting due to the building being non-residential in a residential area.  Residents within 200 feet of the proposed area were notified by mail.  Of the 12 people who received letters, three real estate agents, a Williams family member, and one resident were present, and they expressed support for the station.

The second step in the rezoning process required a sketch plan, which was submitted in March.  The town staff and Mecklenburg County reviewed the plan.

Mecklenburg County approved the septic system and the storm water design.  The utilities department may find issue with the design and suggest alternatives, as it has water and sewer extensions in mind for that area.  The Department of Transportation has no issues with the plan.

The public hearing at the Board of Commissioners meeting was the next step.

Twelve people spoke during the public hearing:

Toni Byers of Cabarrus Road said, “I have spent 40 years of my life in this one area.  This is my neighborhood…I do not want the noise of sirens coming in and out of my neighborhood twenty four seven.  I want to continue to enjoy the quiet country living that I’ve been used to for 40 years of my life…Please do not do this to our country neighborhood.”

Donald Hager of Arlington Church Road said, “I dearly love the Town of Mint Hill; dearly love the fire department.  They saved my life three times.”

Robert Miller of Arlington Church Road said, “I’m 100 percent for the fire department.  It’s badly been needed for a long time…I welcome it with open arms…It’s for my own benefit.”

Steve Gandy, pastor at Arlington Baptist Church and resident of Cabarrus Road said, “I have a long-standing relationship with volunteer firemen…I realize this is an inconvenience for some people, in fact I’m very familiar with inconveniences too.  I have to make decisions all the time that don’t please everyone.  But a lot of times we have to look at it for the greater good.”

Lisa Adams of Arlington Church Road said, “I live 300 feet from the proposed intersection and I have lived there long enough to know that is an extremely dangerous intersection the way it is currently set up…I believe that if you want to save time for response, Mint Hill can look into a dedicated 911 response system.”

Sharon Heath of Lemmond Acres Drive said, “Overall I think we have a very fine group of emergency responders, and I think they do a very good job.  My family has used them several times…I’d be really interested in seeing what portion of your call base is in our area.”

John Walton of Arlington Church Road said, “I live about a quarter of a mile north of the proposed site, and I certainly would welcome a fire station close to my house.  The big issue here is can you find a site that is not across the street from several homes?  Can you find a site where you don’t require rezoning in a residential area?”

Mark Jamison of Albemarle Road said, “I don’t hardly know of any fire station that has gone in somewhere and did not have opposition, but also when they did get in there they became part of the community.”

Gene Steele of Arlington Church Road said, “I was fortunate enough open up quite a few stations in the Charlotte area, and probably three of them were in already developed neighborhoods, and they loved it…I would welcome it in front of my house…We need to take care of our own and I think this would be a great idea.”

Michele Taylor said, “This isn’t about noise, it isn’t about statistics, it’s not about commercial property.  It’s about saving someone who could be dying.  And unless you have been there, like I have, those seconds that are precious feel like hours…Think about what’s really important.”

Ted Huntley said, “This is something that really hits home with me.  Twenty-two years ago I lost my first wife.  Seconds would go by, it seemed like hours…This is about saving lives…Lets build this thing.”

John McRorie of Arlington Church Road said, “I told them that if they couldn’t find a place they could put it in my pasture.  I took a ride in that big read buggy about two years ago…I think this is a good thing.”

Two days after the meeting a home about one mile from the proposed site was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire.  Mint Hill, Midland, Fairview, Robinson, and Idlewild Fire Departments responded to the call shortly before 9 pm and cleared the scene after 1:30 am.  Jerry Mullis and Martin said if the new station was in place, it would have made a difference in this particular fire.

The Planning Board met Monday to vote on a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.  Board members gave comments and asked questions to Martin and town planner John Hoard.

The five-year vesting period was in question.  Ordinarily plans have two years after plan approval, but the fire department is asking for five.  Martin responded that the department may not have the funds to begin construction within the first two years, but they need to act soon to close on the property.

The Planning Board sent a positive recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, denying the waiver to remove sidewalks from the original plan.

Public comments were not allowed at the Planning Board meeting, nor will they be part of the Board of Commissioners discussion when the board votes on the matter August 16.

Some residents feel their voice was not heard.  Byers and her neighbor are gathering signatures for a petition against the station.  She did not receive a letter of notice from the fire department, even though she lives within 200 feet.

“The biggest thing that bothers me is we live in a country setting, and the fact that they can come in and rezone it and put a station across the street from a residential area,” she said.  “We love Mint Hill Fire Department.  We love Mint Hill.  It has nothing to do with not supporting the fire department at all…but I do not want this in my front yard.”

Richard Lodge of Lammond Acres left the South Park area for the tranquility of Mint Hill.

“My complaint is about the process.  The fire department did not handle the communication on this properly, said Lodge, “I heard that they had some kind of a meeting in January…The first I knew about it and my neighbors knew about it was when the zoning sign when up [at the site]…A lot of the Commissioners did not ask penetrating questions, and the chief’s presentation was abysmal.”

Photos by Amanda Waters.


Aktion Club talent show


The Kiwanis and Aktion Clubs of Mint Hill, Charlotte, Union County, and Lake Norman held their annual talent show at Philadelphia Presbyterian Church last Friday.  Performers showcased their singing, dancing, beat box, and martial arts skills to a supportive audience.  Money was raised through a dinner, dessert sales, a raffle, and a silent auction, and will help send Aktion Club members to a conference in September.  Photos by Amanda Waters.


Town Hall construction nears completion


Construction on the new Town Hall is nearing completion.  The two-story building is currently awaiting carpeting, stucco finishing, and sidewalk brickwork.  Major construction is practically finished, and the installment of smaller details is underway.

Upon entering the building through the front doors, visitors will be facing the entrance to the assembly room.  The new assembly room is larger than its present counterpart.  The Board of Commissioners’ long desk is set, made of a dark wood that matches the doors.  The ceiling stretches through the second floor, taking over the entire center of the building.  Still to come are the fabric wall coverings.

The hallways wrapping around the assembly room on both the first and second floors are open to the public.  The hallways on the back of the building are for artwork, and gallery lights have been installed.

Offices are accessed through key cards and are located off of the public areas on the left and right of the building.  To see a town staff member, visitors can go to the receptionist windows located on both floors.

Since the building was designed to last 50-100 years, some of the offices will not be immediately occupied.  A space is provided for a possible administrative assistant to the town manager, and open offices can be used as conference or training rooms.

The monumental granite stairs, the more utilitarian back stairway, or the elevator give access to the second floor.

Finishing up the outside construction involves adding stucco and laying the brick walkways in the front of the building.  The outside materials were chosen in part due to their durability and low maintenance.

Energy-saving motion sensor lights were installed in the offices.

“They were smart when they spent their money,” said Edifice project executive, Scott Fandel.  “I think they did a good job of planning for the future.”


MHPD Police Explorer program

The Mint Hill Police Department is holding its annual fundraising golf tournament Saturday, October 6 at Larkhaven Golf Course on Camp Stewart Road in Charlotte to support its newly instated Police Explorer program.  This national program operates under the Boy Scouts of America, though it is a non-scouting group.  Mint Hill’s Police Explorers were established at the beginning of this year.

The Police Explorer program is for young people 14-20 years old who have an interest in a career in law enforcement.  Police Chief, Tim Ledford, hopes the program can give some direction to kids who need it.

Applications for the program have been provided to the high schools in the area.  Interested students should turn in the applications and an essay on why they want to be in the program to the police department, where a review board will choose the top applicants.

The cadets-in-training will find mentors in police officers.  They will attend classes for interviewing techniques, taking fingerprints at crime scenes, and how to write a report, among other skills.  Proficiency will be awarded with equipment for the duty belt.  For an example, proficiency in handcuffing skills will result in handcuffs for the belt.  Ledford believes this allows them to set goals and have a visual for success.

The program currently has 10 members, and the department wants to expand that to 20.

The golf tournament will raise money for the equipment needed to run the Police Explorers program.  Along with equipment, Ledford would like to issue utility and Class A uniforms.

“We’d like to get some support from the community to supply the equipment and supplies to make this program a solid program,” said Ledford.  He hopes the tournament will raise $5,000.  If that goal is met, the department would also like to set up a scholarship program to award to members going to college to study Criminal Justice.

“It would be a major milestone in my career to see a program where we started these kids out a young age, they’ve gone through our program, and then one of them finally gets accepted as a police officer somewhere.  I think that’d be great,” said Ledford.