Big I hope for another title

Independence head coach Bill Geiler addresses his team at the end of practice. He stressed the importance of the scrimmage at Rocky River High School Friday at 6 pm. The Patriots will also hold its second annual Green and Gold scrimmage at the school Saturday at 9 am. PHOTOS BY FRANK SMITHWICK

Independence head football coach Bill Geiler sounds like a lot of coaches when he says, “the goal is to win a state championship.”
In order for his Patriots to get back to the State Championship they must “get better everyday and improve on last year’s 8-3 season,” says Geiler.
Hopefully, he is right and can lead them to a state championship because this will be Geiler’s last season as coach of the Independence Patriots.
This year the team is young and includes several players from a very successful last year JV team. Three returners on offense and three returners on defense help balance out the young squad.
“One of the differences from this year’s team and last year’s team is that they are bigger, faster, stronger and have more experience.”
As a head coach, he holds a career record of 26-22 and 26-11 at Independence.    Geiler has coached football for 35 years.  All but one of those years has been in Charlotte.  Some of the things that have kept Geiler in the game so long are his core beliefs as a coach.  He feels he missed a lot time with his own children as they were growing up, but now he does not hesitate to leave the field if his family needs him.  Family comes first.  Geiler has assembled a strong staff at Indy that allows him to put his family before the Friday night lights if needed.
The increase in strength is due to a year-round lifting program strength coach Hal Brown put together. Brown will coach the offensive line in addition to his weight room duties.  Brown as been at Independence since 2000. He has not missed any team function and was there during the 109 win streak.
Joe Evans is in his third year and is calling the shots as offensive coordinator. Continue reading

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Vandals caught at MH athletic fields

Two groups of teenagers have been caught vandalizing MHAA soccer fields, causing over $6,000 in damages. 

Teenagers were caught vandalizing the Mint Hill Athletic Association fields.  They agreed to community service at the fields to avoid criminal charges.  Last week, another group was caught vandalizing the fields, and their parents will pay thousands of dollars for the repairs.
The MHAA fields have seen some level of vandalism the last three summers, but the association says it is not going to put up with it any longer.
The juveniles rolled over picnic tables and did doughnuts on the U6 and U7 soccer fields.  In a span of eight days the fields were vandalized three times.  The police have been involved and are not releasing any names, since it is a civil matter.  The damages are estimated at over $6,000, and the association is considering putting up fences.
“It’s never been this bad,” said Keenan Harward, soccer commissioner at MHAA.  “It means fees go up and fewer kids can play soccer.”
Harward wants the community to be aware of what is happening.  “I think the community needs to know because MHAA serves the community.  We raise money from the community.”  The soccer program is accepting charitable donations to help repair the fields.  For more information, email soccer@mhaa.us.

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MHPD benefits from K9 unit

Sgt. McKenzie and K9 Officer Ajay have worked together at the MHPD for five years. 

The Mint Hill Police Department is equipped with two working dogs.  Ajay and Bady go to work with their handlers, Sgt. McKenzie and Officer Mahmutovic.  They have been trained to find drugs, perform building searches, track suspects, and perform article searches.
The dogs spend a lot of time waiting in the K9 unit vehicle.  It’s equipped with a hot dog alarm, which automatically rolls down windows if temperatures get too hot.  Most of his calls are to sniff out traffic stops.  They have assisted with the DEA and police departments in Matthews, Pineville, and Charlotte.
McKenzie has seen a change in the number of people who run from him since he’s become a handler.  In his first four years, nine people attempted to run from him, but no one has tried it since they see the K9 logo on his car.
Ajay and Bady were bred in the Czech Republic.  Breeders pair dominant, trainable dogs, and a litter might produce just one dog that meets the behavioral requirements for police dogs.  American kennels purchase dogs from Europe, and bring them back to continue training.  They can cost between $6,000 and $12,000.  Mint Hill’s K9s came from a kennel in Greenville, N.C., and they respond to Czech commands.
“We spent a month at the kennel; we had to live there.  And we pretty much trained 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week,” said McKenzie.
He works with Ajay, an eight-year-old German Shepherd who has worked with the MHPD for five years.  McKenzie is his first handler.  When Ajay retires around the age of 10, McKenzie will gladly take him in as a family dog.
“I’ve always been an animal person.  I’ve always had dogs, and trained dogs for duck hunting,” he said.

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Supt. Morrison listens to community

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School’s new superintendent, Dr. Heath Morrison, led a community town hall meeting at Rocky River High School last Thursday to hear from parents, students, and teachers.  It was the first of many community meetings scheduled for the new school year.
Rocky River principal, Brandy Nelson, introduced Morrison to the event.  “On behalf of the students, the community, the faculty, the staff, we’d like to welcome Dr. Morrison to Rocky River.  It’s a special place; we love it very much.  We are thrilled that you’re here today.  Thank you for coming.”  Nelson presented Morrison with orange and brown Rocky River “swag,” including a hat and jacket. Continue reading

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Burdicks celebrate 50 years

Charlie and Jane Burdick celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday, August 4 at the Mint Hill Historical Society.  Their family and friends traveled from across the U.S. for the occasion.
The Burdicks were married Saturday, August 4, 1963 in Minnesota.  They have two daughters and five grandchildren.  They met their senior year at the University of Minnesota and married when they were 23 years old.
The party had an old-time southern feel.  The historic buildings, folk band, and gospel singers Karen and William Lindzy Washington provided the ambiance.
Dinner was provided by a caterer and served in the schoolhouse, and a bar was on site.  Tables and chairs were set under a tent, lit by strings of lights.
The Burdicks both volunteer at the historical society.  Charlie works on the grounds and Jane as a docent.  It’s a special place for them. Continue reading

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Genealogy workshop at Mint HIll Historical Society

The Mint Hill Historical Society is holding a genealogy workshop August 11 at 10 am.  The workshop still has openings.  The society is looking for a convection oven to host old fashioned biscuit making classes.  This will be a focus of future workshops.  For more information, call 704-573-0726.

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