Mint Hill considers regional consortium

“CONNECT Our Future: Vibrant Communities—Robust Region” is a process that seeks to create a regional growth framework for development among communities across a 14-county wide area in North and South Carolina.

The three-year process utilizes input from counties, communities, non-profit organizations, businesses, educators, and other organizations to form the plan and is funded by a $4.9 million federal grant and $3 million in local matching funds.

Jim Prosser, executive director at Centralina Council of Governments, gave a presentation of the program at the October 25 meeting of the Mint Hill town commission.

“The basic purpose of this effort is to establish a regional framework for how all the cities and the counties are going to grow for the next 30 to 50 years,” Prosser said.

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Grassroots meteorologist provides Mint Hill forecast

The brain of the Mint Hill weather station: the solar-powered black and white cylinders stand five feet from the ground, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, and rain, transmitting data every three seconds, 24 hours a day. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS MULLIS

Mint Hill is home to a weather station that provides a large amount of weather data at the local level. A 34-foot pole stands just a few miles from downtown, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, rain, and light, while transmitting data every three seconds to be uploaded to MintHillWeather.com.

The weather station is the solo project of Mint Hill resident Chris Mullis, who grew up in Charlotte, being introduced to the world of science through the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. His passion for astronomy led him to a doctorate degree at the University of Hawaii.

Astronomers develop a relationship with the weather, as they depend on clear skies for observations. They also share with meteorologists the fundamentals of data collecting as scientists. So it was easy for Mullis to cross over to the meteorological world a couple months ago when he constructed his weather station and built his website.

Alongside dozens of charts, graphs, and columns of information are visual aides. The live sky camera, daily videos, and blog illustrating phenomena of the sky provide fascinating visuals from a local perspective. Visitors can see a full-screen lightning flash from last Saturday morning, a meteor from the August 12 Perseid shower, or simply watch the sky grow brighter from the rising sun any given day.

“Visual information is the most powerful type of information,” explained Mullis. “Science begins with observation, and what better way to question the natural world than by looking at it.”

His inspiration for this latest scientific endeavor was in large part his children. As they progress through their education, Mullis wants to keep their curiosities alive. He talks to classrooms of young children about astronomy and meteorology, hoping to instill the importance of questions.

“I’m a grassroots agitator for science education and asking why and questioning the simple stuff; pausing to look and think, ‘why is that?’ I’m taking this weather science and using it as a reason to have a conversation about science and technology. I’m not trying to generate new meteorologists or new astronomers, I’m trying to get kids and citizens to think about science and technology.”

For that reason, he regularly takes out the telescope at home for his children. For special astronomical occasions, the neighborhood kids visit for observations.

MintHillWeather.com was not created just as a tool for teaching science. It’s a useful site for anyone wanting the local weather forecast. Radar images come from Weather Underground in exchange for the high quality data Mullis collects. Current conditions and forecasts provide the casual weather-watcher with the information they need to make the day’s or week’s plans. Scrolling down the home page, more detailed information can be found like precipitation and the UV index, useful for gardeners.

Visitors can also find advisories and astronomical observation charts. The current solar image is always available, illustrating the mind-blowing size of the sun (look for the Earth and Jupiter scale markers). Mint Hill residents can obtain information from the website in a variety of convenient ways. The website is easy to remember and navigate. Following the forecast on Twitter (twitter.com/MintHillWeather) provides live weather conditions on the hour every hour. The Facebook (facebook.com/MintHillWeather) page posts current conditions and the forecast every morning and afternoon. The site also has a mobile version for smart phone use.

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Becoming a certified Community Wildlife Habitat

The Town of Matthews is working with Habitat and Wildlife Keepers to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat.  Matthews will become the fourth community in N.C. to become certified.  Weaverville, Montreat, and Lake Norman are already certified.

HAWK is a chapter of National Wildlife Federation.  This chapter, founded by Carol Buie-Jackson, now the N.C. Wildlife Federation vice president, was the first of its kind in the country, and North Carolina is the only state supported by a chapter system.

The Matthews initiative includes the zip codes 28104, 28105, and 28106.  Communities have five years after registering, and Matthews has one year left.  Certification works on a point system, and Matthews has only 56 points left.  Homes add one point, schools five points, and businesses and parks are three points.

Butler High School, Crestdale Middle School, and Matthews Elementary School are certified.  HAWK is now asking daycare centers and places of worship if they will participate.  The Four Mile Creek Greenway in Matthews is certified, as well as Squirrel Lake Park.

Residents can certify their homes by filling out a NWF application at gardenforwildlife.org.  Property must provide food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young for wildlife.  It is best to provide native plants and trees, as they are better sources for native wildlife.  Water can be as simple as a birdbath.  Birdhouses, shrubs, brush piles, and snags can be places for wildlife to raise young.  Certification costs $20, and a certification sign can be purchased for $30.

Jill Palmer, HAWK president, said Matthews town representatives have been supportive of this effort.  Having the town certified will “recognize the community as a place that cares about wildlife.”

“We’re pretty nature- and eco-friendly in Matthews,” said Palmer.  “This just gives us that right to say this is a community that cares about wildlife.”  She said certification will be attractive to residents and businesses looking for a place to settle down.

Palmer expects HAWK to eventually branch out beyond Matthews into surrounding areas like Mint Hill.  If Mint Hill residents or businesses have questions about certification or general wildlife concerns, HAWK will gladly answer them.

“We do it because we love nature, we love animals.  We care about the environment,” said Palmer.

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Matthews will launch its new residential roll-out recycling cart program the week of August 8

The Town of Matthews will introduce its new roll-out recycling containers in early August. All households in the Town will receive one new green roll-out recycling cart. The carts are 96 gallons and will be collected every other week on the same day as their garbage collection day. Garbage collection will still happen every week and on the same schedule. There is no charge for the first cart.

There are several benefits to having an every other week roll-out cart recycling program.

“The carts are easier for citizens to maneuver, have a lid which prevents littering and hold more than the small bins we now use,” said Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett. “We will also save money by only collecting recycling every other week which means fewer trucks on the road and less air pollution.” Continue reading

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Spring cleaning leads to rise in illegal dumping

Trash dumped on Castleford Drive in the Chace Water Subdivision 4-19-11

Mint Hill Police reported last week that there is an uptick in illegal dumping of trash and debris in the town. With at least two dozen neighborhoods that have empty lots in town, and many residents cleaning homes and yards for spring, the police are asking residents to call the department dispatch to report suspicious activity.
In 2010, Mint Hill saw more than a dozen illegal dumping issues. The illegal dumping occurred mostly in undeveloped subdivisions and their streets, on vacant
lots and on properties with vacant homes. In addition, police report that there have been several issues with vandalism of vacant homes mainly at undeveloped subdivisions.
Lieutenant J.K. Rowell with Mint Hill Police said a “handful” of Mint Hill residents have noticed suspicious vehicles approaching vacant lots and vacant properties and have contacted authorities. Continue reading

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Tucker: ‘We have the resources to become energy independent’

Tommy Tucker (R-35), who represents the Mint Hill area in the North Carolina Senate, released this video about an energy bill he is co-sponsoring with Bob Rucho and Harry Brown.

The bill, predictably called the Energy Jobs Act, will make off shore drilling for natural gas possible in the state, as well as other energy exploration.


 

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