Moving day for Mint Hill Town Hall

The Mint Hill Town Hall made its official move last weekend to 4430 Mint Hill Village Lane.  Movers worked through the weekend to deliver newly ordered office furniture and boxes of files and supplies.  The town posted the moving plan on its website, stating the phone system could go down, but it made efforts to continue providing a high level of customer service to Mint Hill residents.  Monday was the first full operating day in the new building.  Staff will unpack this week and settle in.  Town Hall meetings will continue to take place at the old building.  The order for the new chairs for the assembly room is delayed and may not be ready until October or even as late as November.

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Aqua N.C. president talks with local customers

Private water service customers gathered in the Mint Hill Town Hall last Friday to hear from Aqua North Carolina president Tom Roberts regarding water quality.  Residents of Ashe Plantation have recently become vocal about a problem they say is decades old.

Meeting organizers invited Jeff Tarte, recently elected to the N.C. State Senate, N.C. Representative Bill Brawley from Mecklenburg County and member of the Public Utilities Committee in the House, and N.C. Public Utilities staff member David Furr, and Roberts had with him two Aqua North Carolina representatives with knowledge of the problems.

Tarte mediated the conversation and explained the focus of the conversation was on water quality, although he acknowledged that local customers were also upset about customer service and rates.  He allowed Aqua to explain what they are doing with Ashe Plantation’s wells, and followed that with some questions from residents.

“We already know what the problems are, so what we’re hoping to hear is what Aqua North Carolina is doing to remedy the situation,” said Tarte.

“One of the primary things that I do is meet with customers.  If I’m invited I will come.  Mrs. Decker and I have had a number of conversations, and I’m happy to be here tonight to have you hear from us,” said Roberts.  “We realize we’ll have to talk about some history, but what we’d like to do is look forward and talk about the future and where we think we’re going from our point of view.”

The Aqua representatives explained that an Ashe Plantation well experienced a malfunction earlier this summer, which caused a disruption in filter performance.  After the well was back in service, problems continued due to accumulated mineral deposits.  Aqua cleaned, flushed, and tested the water storage tank and flushed the distribution system.

To avoid future water quality problems, the company is monitoring water color leaving the filters by having installed sensors that will send an alarm and shut down the well.

The water company also ensured its customers that water is routinely tested and meets state and federal drinking water standards.

Aqua representative Michael Melton offered specific numbers regarding water quality and contaminates, though the customers said the numbers had no context or meaning to them.

A reoccurring topic during the conversation was the affect of bad press on the neighborhood.  Homeowners said realtors are avoiding the neighborhood, which is an “economic opportunity cost.”  Roberts responded saying he doesn’t “have that power over the press,” and recommended real estate agents call Aqua.  He also said he would like to talk with them.

“What is it going to take to get our water system up to a Charlotte quality water system so that it will attract new homeowners into the community and displace everything that we’ve seen in the news already about the water quality?  They’ve gone on the news already and said how poor the water quality was.  I think that the water needs to be fixed correctly today and then go back on the news and say how it was fixed and put together these bottles with clean water.  But if you can’t produce bottles with clean water then everything you say tonight is not going to mean anything,” said a customer.

“We love to do success stories, too,” said Roberts.  He suggested having the media cover the solution to the problem.

“We need a success story,” the customer responded.

Another customer said he has lived in Ashe Plantation for 24 years and has never had clean water.

“You’re not going to fix that well.  You either need to drill another well or let us have city water.  I know that’s your call,” he said.

“The technology exists for us to fix that well,” said Roberts.

Ashe Plantation homeowners’ association president Sharon Decker said she would like to have another meeting with Aqua to address other issues like rates.  She knows Aqua is willing to meet with them again.

“We appreciate everything the town of Mint Hill has done for us,” said Decker.  She was happy to hear about the resolution the town passed to ensure good water quality and service, and she appreciated being able to meet at the town hall.

“This is an inconvenience; it’s a health issue,” said Ashe Plantation homeowner Janis Barnett.  “They’ve done a good job of giving us more information than they had before, they told us what they’re doing to get that well back.”  She said she’s feeling hopeful about the situation.

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Therapy dogs help early readers at library

 

Teresa Faucette is a Therapy Dogs International volunteer and an experienced dog trainer.  She believes dogs provide health and emotional benefits for humans, and she wants to spread those benefits to as many people as she can.  Her sheltie, Max, is a disaster stress relief dog who has helped people after the 2011 Alabama tornado outbreak as well as local hospitals.

“There has been so much scientific proof that dogs can help with stressed and troubled people.  Max, my dog, participated in a program for CMC where they took the vital signs of people before and after dogs visited – these were repertory and cardiac patients – and found that the dogs made a remarkable difference in blood pressure and things like that.”

Faucette created a program in the library system to help early readers become confident readers.  She and other volunteers bring their dogs to the Mint Hill library for Paws to Read every month.

Max and other highly trained dogs will hold the page down for children as they read.  Some can read flashcards, and since no one is perfect, children can be more forgiving of themselves when they miss a word because even their four-legged reading partner misses words once in a while.  Faucette says the aim of the program, which she created, is to help children feel good about themselves and about reading.

“Reading is so important, and if we can give the child encouragement, that’s what it’s about,” she said.  “You want children to always think of the library and books as a fun thing to do.  This is a good place.  That’s what we try to do.  It’s a different atmosphere for the kids.  It’s relaxed.  If you get a word wrong, oh well, the dog’s not going to say anything.”

Early readers often find themselves frustrated while reading.  Reading to dogs allows them to feel free of judgment, and they can take a time-out to pet the dog and try again.

Faucette is a resident of Mint Hill and has been training dogs for 18 years.  She and Max offer many other programs for children and adults.  At the school level, Max can help teach children about fire safety, nutrition, and, of course, the reading program.  For more information about Therapy Dogs International and Faucette’s volunteer program, contact her at teresafaucette@bellsouth.net.

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