Young blacksmith apprentice keeps hope alive for craft

By Michele Dotson: Staff Writer

In medieval times, blacksmithing was considered part of the set of seven mechanical arts.  Today it is often referred to as the king of crafts.  The job of a blacksmith is not an easy one.  It’s hot, dirty, smoky, and physically demanding.

The most serious injury many teens today might encounter is carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitively texting with their thumbs.  That’s why it is so impressive to walk into the blacksmith shop at the Carl J. McEwen Historic Village and see 15-year old Cuinn McDermott hammering and sweating over a glowing hot piece of steel.

“I was part of History’s Kids and we spent some time at the Schiele Museum where I watched a blacksmith at work,” says McDermott.  “I took an interest and started helping the blacksmith there.”

McDermott worked there for a couple of years and now works under the supervision of Mike McRae at the Mint Hill Historic Village.

McRae spends time at the blacksmith shop doing demonstrations for school children and works with Cuinn whenever he can.

“There are not too many kids his age that show an interest in this kind of thing,” he says.  “Cuinn has a natural ability and a dedication to blacksmithing I’ve hardly ever seen.”

For centuries the apprenticeship program has stayed pretty much the same.  It takes dedication and education.  Today, apprentices can get some of their training, especially in working with fire to cut steel, and learn the properties of flame building and heat by attending a community college.  But every committed blacksmith eventually joins a journeyman program and trains in a professional blacksmith shop.

McDermott says he’ll probably head in that direction in the future.

“It’s fun,” he says. “It takes a while to learn the different techniques, so I learn a little more each time I come out here.”

McDermott is a student at Trinity Christian School.

 

blacksmith 1:  15-year old blacksmith apprentice Cuinn McDermott stokes the fire at the blacksmith shop on Saturday, July 27 at the Carl J McEwen Historic Village in Mint Hill.

 

blacksmith 2:  Cuinn McDermott (right) watches as blacksmith Mike McRae of Mint Hill demonstrates proper technique for stoking the fire for maximum effectiveness.  McRae readies a piece of steel for work on the anvil.

 

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Blair Road United Methodist welcomes new associate pastor

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.21.24 PMBy Michele Dotson-Staff Writer

Pastor Innocent Justice is settling into his new role at Blair Road United Methodist Church. Justice comes to Mint Hill from Durham where he has just completed his Master’s in Divinity from Duke University.

Originally from Rwanda, Justice thinks his mother had high hopes of his future in the ministry by picking such a fitting name.

“My mother, who was a good Catholic, looked in the books of the Saints and she chose Innocent. Maybe she thought I was going to serve the Lord,” he says.

If there was any doubt that his first name might allude to his future calling, there is no question about his last name.

“In African culture, there are no such things as a family last name,” he explains. “So when I was born, I was given the last name Ndagijimana, which means ‘God is my Shepherd.’”

Justice fled the genocide in Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1994, only to be chased back into the country when the atrocities began in the refugee camps there. In 2001 he fled to South Africa with his wife and daughter and remained there until 2005.

“I came to the US with my wife and daughter to Kentucky,” says Justice. “We were sponsored there by Wesley United Methodist Church and I knew then that God had called me to the ministry.”

Justice completed his BA in Pastoral Ministry at John Wesley College, which is now Laurel University. In 2010 he applied and was admitted to Duke Divinity School. He served as Associate Student Pastor at Duke’s Chapel in Durham from July, 2010 to June 9, 2013.

2010 also marked another milestone for Justice and his family. They became US citizens.

“In Africa, wives don’t take the last name of their husbands. So when we came here, I would go to the school to pick up the children, they would ask if they were adopted since my wife, children, and I had different last names; it caused such confusion,” explained Justice.

So when they became citizens in 2010, they decided to choose a last name that was appropriate for them.

“Because of my passion for justice and reconciliation, I chose the last name “Justice.”

“We are happy in this country, but it was important to remember where we came from, so I did not lose my last name, Ndagijimana became my middle name.”

Upon completion of his degree at Duke, Justice began to look into positions at specific churches and started interviewing. Churches in need then submit their top two candidates to the Conference for approval. Even though he was from Durham, Justice is a member of the Western Conference.

“The Bishop and the Cabinet will sit together to pray and discern and decide which church needs who, with the gifts and Grace, as we call them, and they decide the appointments,” explains Justice.

“God wanted me to be here, and here I am,” he adds.

As associate pastor, Justice will assist Senior Pastor Lynn Upchurch in many ways.

“My responsibilities will involve teaching, preaching and pastoral care, and all the life of the church,” he says. He’s very excited about the possibilities at the church and is working now to get to know the congregation as well as prepare for his first sermon which will be July 21.

The family has grown since leaving Africa and now includes two more daughters.

“My wife Vicky, and daughters Divine, Deborah, and Dianna are really loving Mint Hill,” he says. “It is a wonderful place. I love Mint Hill because it’s a small town. It’s very calm. You can access everything and it’s not far from Charlotte. I can drive 20 minutes and I am in the big city, and then come back here to this safe sanctuary, so I love Mint Hill.”

 

 

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Principal readies Bain for transition

Bain School-new

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Michele Dotson - Staff Writer

Finishing touches are being completed at the newly constructed Bain Elementary School in preparation for the start of school in August. The project, which cost more than $15 million and took about 18 months to complete was paid for with 2007 bond money.

The school was first slated only for upgrades, but approval for a new structure came once it was determined to be more cost effective to build from scratch.  Construction began in early spring of 2012. nths to complete was paid for with 2007 bond money.

Principal John LeGrand has spent the summer organizing the move from the adjacent building and readying the school for the return of teachers on August 19.

“I have been addressing our instructional focus, of course, but I’ve been surprised how I’ve been pulled into dealing with lots of logistics this summer.” Continue reading

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Mint Hill weighs future of Madness at January meeting

Mint Hill Madness, the yearly festival that has been presented by the Chamber of Commerce for the last three decades, took center stage at last Thursday’s Board of Commissioners’ meeting. 
The Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce is relinquishing their management of the event turning that responsibility over to a nonprofit organization that will be created solely to manage Mint Hill Madness.
Nancy Bradley and Marty Cocking of RelyLocal,  presented the board with information and plans for the future of the festival, citing the mission of the new Madness, “to bring back vitality to Mint Hill Madness by repurposing the festival to support local 501(c)3 charitable organizations to foster community and help rebuild economic growth in Mint Hill.”
The proposition is to create a board of directors that will manage the nonprofit, Mint Hill Madness, which will make all executive decisions regarding the festival. 
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Bringing Thanksgiving to those in need

Young Miss Shelby Stegall, Little Miss Brinkley Housand, Tiny Miss Braylin Huneycutt Back row: Baby Miss Charley Stegall, Teen Miss Lelia Mallouky and Miss Mint Hill Madness Ashley Olive. PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIE SHILLINGBURG

This year, the members of the Mint Hill Madness Beauty Pageant are bringing the spirit of Thanksgiving to those in need.

Bringing together all the necessities of a Thanksgiving meal, from whole turkeys to sides and desserts, pageant members gathered food to bring homeless families a full Thanksgiving.

This is the second year the pageant has donated Thanksgiving meals to those in need, and this year, eight families will be getting a meal; seven receiving laundry baskets full of food, and one, without the ability to cook, receiving a gift certificate to Cracker Barrel.

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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