Rocky River’s Festapallooza Celebrating of the gifts of special needs students

By Michele Dotson
Staff Writer

festapalloozaOn December 20, Rocky River High School will sponsor its 3rd Annual Festapallooza.
What started three years ago as a collaborative project between the special education class and the drama teacher has turned into a school-wide, two community agency, and 10 visiting high schools event, featuring a play, a lunch, and a Special Olympics basketball exhibition.
“The first year Rocky River opened, I was teaching an adapted version of Hamlet,” says special education teacher Ann Lake. “I approached the drama teacher, Mr. Webster as a possible collaborative effort. My students were reading the story and acting it out in class. The first year, we took five scenes and invited the parents, the administration, and a few CMS support staff.” Continue reading


Volunteer group clips coupons for troops – Receives commendation letter from national program

By Michele Dotson

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.24.33 PMTuesday, November 26 was cold, rainy, and absolutely miserable outside. Inside the club house at Alpine Village, though, things were warm and cozy. A faithful group of 13 showed up on this dreary day to cut and sort coupons to send to US troops to help soldiers and their families make ends meet on a military families’ budget.

“All the helpers are residents,” says Ed Henderson, organizer for the Troopon program. “I believe our Village is the best kept secret in Charlotte, blessed with people who have formed a caring community.”

Most of the workers come every week, rain or shine. Others are less mobile but still want to stay involved.

“We usually have 14 to 18 members that come here (to the clubhouse), ages 60 to 90,” he says, “and some residents do their share at their own homes.”

The project is now an every Tuesday event. There’s coffee, refreshments, and lots of friendly chatter as the coupons are prepared for shipping. On average, they are sending 10 to 12 pounds of coupons every two weeks. Henderson pays for the shipping cost as part of his contribution.

Residents save Wednesday flyers with store coupons and Sunday coupon booklets for the group to use. The US commissaries accept coupons that are up to 6 months outdated, and that helps add to the growing stacks that will be boxed and sent to the Support Our Troops organization that gets the coupons directly into the hands of the veterans and their families.

The Alpine Village group is so successful, they recently received a monogramed patch and a letter of commendation from the sponsoring organization along with some staggering statistics.

“The effort and time you graciously provide to reduce the pinch on troops’ budgets has made a significant difference,” the letter states.

The letter also outlined the results of the research that was conducted this year, which summarized how much troops were able to save on their grocery bills each month, as well as what the savings allowed the troops to accomplish for their families.

According to the data collected, over a third of the families reported saving between $26 and $50 per month. 20 percent reported savings between $51 and $150 per month, and nearly 10 percent reported savings over $150 per month using the coupons.

The savings allowed 60 percent to pay other bills, while 25 percent reported being able to save toward their children’s education.

Henderson says the Alpine Village group has kept some tallies of their own and is proud to announce that in the past year they have sent over $500,000 in grocery coupons for distribution to overseas locations that aid US military families.

The group has recently expanded their outreach to include sending Christmas cards to wounded heroes currently in the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC.

“We want them to know that we care, love, and truly appreciate the sacrifices they have made and wish them every blessing this wonderful season,” says Henderson.

Henderson hopes other groups will have the opportunity to set some time aside for the coupon program, or send a soldier a Christmas card this holiday season. He’s sure there are others in the Mint Hill area that feel the way his group does about our men and women in the military.

“We are all patriotic senior citizens, giving only of our time to show the families of our troops our appreciation of their service to America,” says Henderson on behalf of the Alpine Village group. “We hope, by others seeing what we have started and accomplished, they will take this information and become members of the Troopon program.”

For more information on the Troopon program, contact or call 386-767-8882.

Letters and cards to the military in Walter Reed Hospital should be sent to:

A recovering American Soldier

c/o Walter Reed Medical Center

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20307-5001






HomeArama Draws Large Crowds – Showcases Mint Hill’s Cheval neighborhood

By Michele Dotson

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.52.54 AMThe Home Builders Association of Charlotte has selected Mint Hill’s Cheval as the site for this year’s HomeArama event, currently in its 25th year. The show opened November 9 and will continue through the 24. Ticket holders enjoy a self-paced tour of six luxury homes which are open and superbly adorned with the latest innovations in home design and décor. Anthony and Tina McNeill from Charlotte spent time at Cheval doing some shopping and idea gathering. “We are in the market, but we’re looking for decorating ideas, too,” says Tina. “We’re doing a little of both.” Barbara Fox and Fay Tran from Huntersville were looking for ideas for their homes, but also wanted a chance to see what Mint Hill had to offer. “I love HomeArama,” says Huntersville resident Barbara Fox. “We have the best time and get to see a new area and get lots of ideas.” Sunday totals were a bit lower than expected because of the rain, but official totals for November 18 were at 907. According to Yvonne Case, accounting manager for the Homebuilders Association, the crowds have been very encouraging and they are very pleased with what they’re seeing. “So far we’ve had a total of 4,581 people come through,” says Case. “That’s really great.” HomeArama continues through November 24, but is closed on Monday. Advance Tickets are $12 each. Children 12 years and under are free. To purchase advanced tickets, go to Tickets may be purchased at the gate for $15.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mint Hill

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.52.39 AMThe Christmas wreaths are up in Mint Hill, a sure sign that Christmas is on its way. The lighted wreaths can be found on both sides of the street all the way down High 51 through downtown Mint Hill, as well as at the intersection of Lawyers Road and Margaret Wallace Road. The wreaths, coupled with a brief period of snow that fell last week, usher in the holiday season.



Texas Roadhouse of Matthews to hold fundraiser for Bain restoration project

Texas Roadhouse, located at 10450 E. Independence Blvd., Matthews, NC (704-814-0285) will donate a percentage of its food sales on Sunday, November 24, to the Historic Bain Academy Restoration, as well as any donations received that day.

Patrons should present the Texas Roadhouse coupon between 11 am and 10 pm, and the Bain project will receive 10 percent of those sales.  Proceeds from the Texas Roadhouse Fundraiser will go toward restoring Historic Bain, which was established 1889 and has served thousands of students in its 124-year history. Continue reading


Small business Saturday to be held on November 30

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 30. Mint Hill residents are encouraged to shop in Mint Hill for gifts or every-day shopping items in order to support local businesses.