MINT HILL, NC – Founded in 1750 by Scots-Irish pioneers, Mint Hill – not Charlotte – holds the distinction of being the very first town created in Mecklenburg County. This year, in 2021, we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Mint Hill’s incorporation.
According to a historical abstract dated 1983, Mint Hill received a first charter much earlier, though the date is unknown. The county refused to build roads through incorporated areas, so town officials gave up their charter in 1910 to allow Mecklenburg County to build a road through Mint Hill. Sixty-one years later, on March 11 of 1971, Mint Hill received its new charter and became incorporated once again under the leadership of Mayor Robert B. Long.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Town’s incorporation, the Town of Mint Hill invited residents to upload photos that illustrate why they love Mint Hill. During the month of February, anyone who lives or works in Mint Hill could submit digital images of all the things they feel make their community special.
The contest drew an overwhelming response. Over 250 photos were submitted including everything from nature scenes, storefronts and iconic Mint Hill events to people living, working and playing around town. From March 1 to March 3, everyone was invited to view photos in an online gallery and vote for their favorite.
First place and a cash prize of $250 went to Kiersten Clay for her photo of Katherine DePrater and her son Jacob outside of their store, The Gift Workshop and The Mint Hill Flower Market. “I love that the town of Mint Hill encourages and supports small businesses like this one,” says Clay. “When the pandemic started, I knew it would take its biggest toll on our small local businesses, so I began offering a free photography session to the small businesses in Mint Hill. I used the opportunity to get to know the owners and show what they offer; then I posted the photos and the information on social media in order to showcase what Mint Hill has to offer. Through this experience I have been so blessed to be able to put a face with the businesses in our town. I met many wonderful people, including Kat at The Gift Workshop. She is truly amazing and her business has so much to offer.”
Long-time Mint Hill resident and professional photographer Clay was thrilled her photo was chosen as one of the winners. “It means so much to me to win this contest,” she says. “I truly love Mint Hill and have loved the opportunity to show it. I started working at Eckerd Pharmacy back when it was in the Mint Hill Festival shopping center when I was in high school. I have seen this town grow and change over the years, but it hasn’t lost its character. My husband and I moved to Mint Hill in 2013. We love this town and this community. I think it is so important to support each other’s businesses and dreams whenever possible. It’s important to shop local and support neighbors.”
Clay’s photography studio is located at The Lofts at 7714 Matthews-Mint Hill Rd. She specializes in family photos, newborn photos, senior photos, maternity photos and more. If you like Clay’s work, you can message her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check her out on Facebook at K. Clay Photography.
Second place and a $100 cash prize went to Maureen Merritt for her black and white photo of her husband and son at the Idlewild Road Volunteer Fire Department. “I took this photo in December of 2019, when our son Finley turned 1,” said Merritt. “My husband Jesse is a firefighter with Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department, and Finn wants nothing more than to be just like his daddy. This photo perfectly captures their love for each other and for firefighting.”
For Merritt, the photo represents family and a love of serving the community. “We are so very proud and thankful to be a part of a town that is family-focused,” she says. Born and raised in Mint Hill, Merritt considers herself lucky to have had the opportunity to move “back home” after a few years away.
An amateur photographer and full-time second grade teacher who enjoys snapping photos of her two children, Finn and Addie, Merritt was thrilled to win second place in the competition. “I was shocked and excited!” she says of her win. “This is my favorite photo I have taken of my husband and son, so it was so exciting to share and win!”
Honorable mentions went to Sergey Nosov, Paul Imirie, Natalia Fry, Mike Taylor and Rob Rosen. Winners, honorable mentions and “Town Hall favorites” were showcased in a PowerPoint presentation at the March 11 Board of Commissioners Meeting. You can view all the winning photographs in an online gallery.
Mayor Brad Simmons credits the contest’s success to Assistant to the Town Manager Sheryl Smith. “I’m excited that so many people put in so many photos, and I was excited that Mint Hill residents had so many different ways to show how they love our town,” says Simmons.
Many beloved town events have been cancelled or postponed this year, but the Town of Mint Hill continues to find new ways to bring us together in a time that requires we stay six feet apart. This march, the Easter Bunny is hiding twelve giant Easter eggs around Mint Hill! Residents can join in on the fun by solving clues that will be posted on social media starting March 16. When you find an egg, scan the QR code with your smart phone and enter your name and email address in the form to be entered into the drawing. If you find multiple eggs, be sure to scan each one’s unique QR code to receive an entry for that location. The more eggs you find, the more chances you will have to win! Follow the Town of Mint Hill on Facebook to keep up with the clues and other important town news.