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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New sidewalks in Mint Hill

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 1.42.37 PMNew sidewalks from the Wendy’s in Brighton Park to the corner of Idlewild Road and Highway 51 are nearing completion in Mint Hill. This is part of the pedestrian plan approved by the Mint Hill Board of Commissioners in May, 2011, aimed at providing safe walking paths connecting uptown businesses.  According to the plan, residents can expect to have access to sidewalks all the way down that side of Highway 51.

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It’s Radio-Active: Charlotte amateur radio club transmits message to Iceland

By Michele Dotson: Staff Writer

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 1.33.09 PMMembers from the Charlotte Amateur Radio Club set up their equipment every other Saturday in the Assay office at the Carl J. McEwen Historic Village in Mint Hill.  Their priorities are to provide information to the public about the history of ham radio, and to help those interested learn how to begin their hobby by offering support from the club which meets once a month.

The cost of getting into the hobby is not exorbitant and are mostly incurred over time.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot of money to get into ham radio,” says club member and vice president Joe Ducar. “The antennae is the most important part of the set up, and it’s fairly inexpensive. You can get one for about $45,” he says.

Other expenses are associated with purchasing the radio, a “to go” box, if you plan to use your radio in remote locations, instructional manuals, and fees for taking the FCC tests. In the United States there are three kinds of ham radio licenses; the technician class, the general class and the extra class. Each class requires more extensive knowledge of ham radio operation and theory, and provides the user with access to more frequency options worldwide.

Gone are the days with the need for huge, unsightly towers that are restricted in many neighborhoods.  Websites offer advice on how to “stealth” your antennae so it is still effective but not unsightly on your property, like what has been done at the assay office.

“Conditions here at the assay office are not always the best,” says Ducor.  “We’re here at a fixed time, and that can be a disadvantage. But we have made contact with so many places around the world. We have even talked with people from Iceland and Greenland.”

But in this age of email, Twitter, Skype, and iPhones, it seems unlikely this hobby would survive much into the 21st Century. Surprisingly, though, the latest FCC information posted in August 2012, indicated that there are over 755,000 licensed operators in the United States alone, which was an increase of 30,000 from the year before. Some attribute the increase to the phasing out of the Morse code test as part of the licensing requirements. But for others, it is just the right time to get started.

John McDermott has been involved with ham radio for less than a year. After fostering an interest for many years, McDermott decided it was time to do something about it. He located the club through an internet search, and was extremely impressed by his first visit.

“I can’t say enough about the club,” says McDermott. “They were willing to help me get started, and answered all my questionsInside the assay office, posted on the wall, is a world map full of pushpins. Each pushpin on that map represents a successful contact like the one in Iceland. That’s a person-to-person contact with someone from another country; another culture, and a personal connection to another fellow human a world away that shared the same desire to reach out and make a new friend.It’s easy to see why this hobby is enjoying a regrowth of popularity.The Charlotte Amateur Radio Club meets Thursdays at 7:30 pm in the Salvation Army headquarters building located at 501 Archdale Drive, Charlotte. For further information, contact www.w4cq.us

 

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Board of Commissioner hear proposed change to sign ordinance, set summer schedule

by Derek Lacey / Staff Writer

The board hears from Stephen Jackson, who requested changes to the town’s ordinance con- cerning lighted signs. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

The board hears from Stephen Jackson, who requested changes to the town’s ordinance con- cerning lighted signs. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

The April 11 Mint Hill Board of Commissioners meeting began with a quarterly developers’ workshop, regarding sign ordinance in the town.

Stephen Jackson presented a proposed text amendment to town code, one that would allow for lit signs, and allow them to change messages, something that is prohibited by current code.

The existing ordinance regarding lighted signs states that the signs shall employ only devices emitting light of constant intensity and that no sign shal be illuminated by flashing, intermittent, rotating, or moving light.

Jackson proposed changing the ordinance so that the police and fire departments, as well as local businesses, could convey messages to the community, and could change those messages if need be.

He did not advocate for signs to be able to flash, rotate, or move, but used as an example the Town of Matthews’ ordinance, which states that signs may change only once every 12 hours.

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Paws to Read

The Mint Hill Library is hosting their Paws to Read program August 11 and 25. The program invites children ages three to 11 to read aloud to a volunteer therapy dog. Register at the library or online, or contact Jackie Hooker at 704-416-5200 for more information.

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Sunday Afternoon in the Park

The Sunday Afternoon in the Park Committee is soliciting artists and musicians to display, perform, demonstrate and sell their products at Sunday Afternoon in the Park, Sunday, August 26. The event will be held at the Mint Hill Park on Wilgrove-Mint Hill Road from 1-6 pm. There is a $5 fee to participate; artists need to provide their own tables, tents, displays, etc. There is no electricity provided. Only items handmade by the exhibiting artist will be allowed. Franchises, imports, and commercially produced items are prohibited. The committee reserves the right to reject any pieces that do not fit the family friendly event. Complete and return  application, along with the $5 application fee, and a photograph of your work, by August 20 if you are interested in participating in Sunday Afternoon in the Park. For further information, contact Tina Ross at 704-545-6231 or e-mail katrinar87@earthlink.net.

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