Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday: November 23, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These stories were originally published November 23, 2006 and was written by the Record staff.

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Rezoning request challenged

Over 100 Matthews residents turned out to hear a presentation by Beazer Homes and their proposed rezoning and development of 91 townhomes off South Trade Street last Thursday.

The purchase of roughly 20 acres of undeveloped land belonging to the Hylton and Martin families by Beazer Homes, will depend on the success of the zoning request. The homes would start at $265,000. Residents from Country Place, Hampton Green, and Chesney Glen, all neighboring subdivisions, quickly turned the subject to the everpresent topic - traffic.

“It horrifies me that we are even considering another development before the traffic problem is addressed,” said Jack Clark of Hampton Green, a sentiment that was echoed through the night.

With an estimated 182 more vehicles vying for traffic commute space between Fullwood, Pleasant Plains, and Weddington roads, the potential traffic quagmire overwhelmed those in attendance at the community meeting. Many citizens expressed concern about the “chicken before the egg” concept where development takes place before the traffic issues are resolved. Adjacent property owners indicated they were always aware of residential development of that site, for single-family homes, not townhomes. A couple of Matthews town commissioners were present, along with Mayor Lee Myers who addressed the crowd, trying to assure them that the development proposal is in its infancy and that the town leaders will do the right thing for the community. Citizens are encouraged to stay on top of further developments regarding the Beazer rezoning request.

#ThrowbackThursday: November 23, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These stories were originally published November 23, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

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The War at Home

“See that field over there?” 84-year-old Neubert Purser points to a garden half-full of greens and winter vegetables, a sliver the size it was in its heyday. “My wife and I pulled up tow-foot-tall Johnson grass by its roots and piled it in the driveway.”

His oldest child, Michael, smiles, probably having heard the story before. “We ran over it with a tractor and then we burned it. It still grew back.” Working and saving for over nine years, he and his wife, Juanita, settled on 70 acres of land on Matthews-Mint Hill Road near Phillips where they raised three children - all grown and living in the area with children of their own. Neubert and Juanita, now deceased, along with their children, grew and preserved their own food; raised crops, chickens, hogs, and cattle. People around town still talk about the incredible piece of property.

Hot Property

For the last thirty years, developers of every ilk have been eyeing Purser’s property. But he never put it up for sale.

“It got to be a joke in our family,” daughter Janet Harrell of Matthews chuckles. “Daddy would say, ‘It’ll cost $100,000 to look around.” The Charlotte News wrote a big story in the early eighties about Purser’s refusal to sell his land. But farming is in his blood and it’s all he ever planned to do.

Those weeds were tough and stubborn. But Purser is tougher. Some would say more stubborn, too.

While discussing the Town of Matthews’ recent condemnation of his property for future park and public use projects, there is a sense about the old farmer that goes beyond sadness. Defeat, maybe? That seems unlikely because anybody who’s spent time with Neubert Purser knows he isn’t a guy who will lay down without a fight.

He paid a big price for that dug-in nature.

The beginning of the end

Wounded at the age of 22 during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, the young man from Union County swore to himself that if he ever made it out of there alive, he was going to buy himself a little farm when he got back to the states. A dream, perhaps. But one that probably helped keep him alive.


“You don’t know cold,’ he grimaces. “I seen frozen bodies stacked up like cords of wood in piles all over the place. All kinds of bodies.” He can’t stand going into funeral homes to this day.

In 1945, while preparing to cross the Roer River in Germany, Purser and other members of the 102 Infantry division took a beating.

“The Germans opened up with everything they had that night,’ he recalls. “I was hit when an 88mm shell exploded near the boat.” A chunk of meat was ripped from his right thigh. The men dug in for 12 hours that night waiting for the barrage to subside. “The sky was lit up so bright, you coulda read the newspaper.”

The wounded were thrown on, what Purser describes as, a cattle car and taken to the hospital. “If you hollered or cussed, you got a shot of morphine.”

Reflecting back, the old man says, “I always thought that if I had made it a couple more days after that fight, I might’ve gotten out of that war in one piece.”

He would’ve been right. After the crossing of the Roer, then the Rhine River, the German army was in full retreat and would never fully recover.

It was the beginning of the end.

Plans for growth and the greater good

“This is the absolute worst part of a job like this,” Matthews Town Manager Hazen Blodgett confessed.

Condemnation is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things the Town of Matthews has undertaken. The $5.0 million in park bonds that passed in 2004 was originally intended to purchase land and simply “land-bank” it. Vacant land in the Matthews community is vanishing fast. “We have about 43 acres of town parkland for 25,000 residents,” explained Blodgett. That’s way below national standards for open space. In a community growing as fast as Matthews - it’s an all-out war against encroachment. If the land is not set aside for public open space for future generations it will be lost to development. There are only a few large tracts left in Matthews like the Purser property.

The Town and the family have mediated an agreement that set the amount paid to the Pursers at $59,000 per acre. The old farmer will die on that soil. It will belong to the Town of Matthews but he has the right to stay there until the bitter end. Had the battle gone to court, a jury would have set the value of the land.

Twenty years from now, when Neubert Purser’s deeply loved land is helping to stem back the tide of relentless development, the sacrifice will seem worth it. The battle is a valiant one.

As families toss balls, fly kites, walk dogs, and send their children to Matthews’ newest public school near the corner of Phillips and Matthews-Mint Hill roads, Purser’s pain might not be in vain. “I’ve only seen my daddy cry three times in my life,’ says youngest daughter Lynn. ‘One, when our mother died; two, when his daddy died; and three, over this farm.”

Only time will tell if this soldier’s battle helped win the war.

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The image on the seal includes four aspects of Mecklenburg County and it still holds up. “The seal is as relative today as it was back then,” said County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts. She, along with many others in the community, appreciate the origins of the seal design: that fresh out of the segregationist days of the old south, a young black kid from the country is selected by a powerful board of local leaders to document and preserve the history of the county.

“I thought I could contribute something,” the young man told the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners in 1964 after receiving the honor. He’s still trying to make a contribution, which is why he’s been before the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to offer his consulting services, should the design team need a little help.

Boyd never received any royalties for his work, despite the fact that he owns the patent on the design. He doesn’t want his contribution to be in vain.

That’s not likely to happen, his supporters say. The fact that a County Seal can say so much, from a guy who could’ve claimed so little and have it last so long - is admirable.

“That says an awful lot about the spirit of this place,” explained Juan Williams, owner and operator of Queen City Tours  who’s given more than his fair share of history lessons to natives and tourists alike. “It’s part of what makes the history of this place so interesting to so many people.” The seal is on vehicles, stationery, websites, and government paperwork. Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones Sr. has assured folks that Boyd will be included in a logo redesign, should the need arise.

#ThrowbackThursday: August 9, 2007

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With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published August 9, 2007, and written by Janet Denk.

Always from the heart

Miss Edith is a writer. She never knew that about herself.

As a matter of fact, Edith Smith is still not convinced, even at the tender age of 99 years young, that she has much to say. But she enjoys words, listens intently and loves the company of other conversationalists — qualities that any writer worth their salt should possess. Edith Smith possesses them in spades.

“She’s remarkable,’ said fellow Happy Times Club member Barbara Stowers. ‘She lives in her home, still cooks and cleans for herself and writes letters to church members. She doesn’t drive, but she likes to get out,’ Stowers added. ‘And she’s ready to go when you call on her.'“

Both women were at the Levine Senior Center last Thursday for lunch and a special presentation by resident historian Caldwell Russell.

“That woman is one of my favorite ladies,” Russell said as the two hugged and caught up on the latest news. Miss Edith brags on Russell, recalling the day, many years ago, that he met her at the Matthews United Methodist Church door and welcomed her inside.

“He just brought me right down in the front row where he was sitting and held my hand the whole time. He’s my good, good friend.”

In this day of emails, text messages, and one minute-wisdom, Miss Edith corresponds the old-fashioned way.

By writing letters.

With pen and ink on paper.

Birthdays, condolences, congratulations, thanks, get well, or just a note to someone know God loves them.

“I just say what’s in my heart,’ she explained about her personal ministry. ‘Sometimes I can get carried away when I get to writing. But, I can’t help it. I suppose that’s just the way I am.”

Born in Virginia in 1908, Miss Edith moved to Charlotte to be with her son, Sam and his family. She has 3 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. She was married for 64 years. Her husband passed away several years ago. Longevity, she claims, comes from her mother’s side. “I have one surviving cousin — Ginny — who’s 101 years old. Last time I spoke with her I said, ‘Did you ever think it would just be you and me one day?’”

The beautiful smile fades for just a minute. Then it’s gone and Miss Edith regales the visiting reporter with tales of cows and cousins and springhouses and grandparents and carefree days on her family’s farm. Miss Edith wrote her memoirs in an essay that was published in the Charlotte Observer years ago.

“It was an essay contest and I couldn’t believe mine got picked!,’ she recalls. ‘Oh, I’m just bragging a little now. But, I saw my name in print and I was just thrilled.”

Now, Miss Edith can thrill others by sharing her words on a card, or maybe a letter. But always, from the heart.

#ThrowbackThursday: October 18, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published October 18, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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72-year-old hauled to jail for cutting up campaign signs

Matthews police arrested an elderly man Tuesday morning for the theft and destruction of two campaign signs on vacant property off Sam Newell Road in Matthews. Jimmy Hood, who formerly owned the property which is scheduled for development, was charged with two counts of Larceny of Campaign Signs, and two counts of Damage to Property. The 72-year-old was arrested and transported to the Mecklenburg County Jail. Apparently he cut up signs belonging to Kress Query and Lee Myers on the property across from the quarry off Sam Newell. Many will recall seeing Mr. Hood mowing the grass on the property between Crestdale Middle School and Independence Boulevard. Colonial Properties will be developing multi-family housing on that land.

“We have either taken reports or been made aware of the theft of at least 50 campaign signs over the past month,’ Matthews Police Chief Rob Hunter expressed in a letter sent to all the candidates running for office in Matthews this year. ‘I want to assure each of you that we are taking these offenses seriously, and that any offenders caught damaging or taking campaign signs will be arrested and transported to jail.”

Speaking of campaign protection…

A notice to Matthews Police patrols has been sent out regarding safety concerns for candidates for office, according to a memo sent to them and the Matthews Town Manager. Hoping not to be considered an infringement of privacy or an alarm with regards to candidate safety, Matthews Police Chief felt it necessary to familiarize town patrol officers with candidates’ homes, in case they should observe any suspicious activities on their property while they are not present or during overnight periods. His decision was based on the “rash of campaign sign thefts,” and what he described as, “the contentious issues surrounding the campaign season.”

The Chief added in his letter to the candidates, “I urge you to contact us should you have any concerns or observe anything suspicious.”

#ThrowbackThursday: July 12, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published July 12, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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A Fantastic Fourth

Matthews Town Green is filled with red, white, and blue, as residents celebrate the 4th

Above: Matthew Hasting, age 11, and his service dog, Dusty, await the start of the People’s Parade. The Family Fun Festival was held on the green in front of Matthews Town Hall.

Below: (Top) Kaleb Goodine was in the spirit of the day while waiting for the 4th of July Peoples’ Parade to begin. (Second photo) Kids and parents decorate bikes at the Family Fun Festival. The event was held on the green of Matthews Town Hall. (Third photo) One year old Adam Cassidy awaits the start of the Peoples’ Parade. He is the son of Mike and Cathy Cassidy. (Bottom left) Carrisa Craig of Matties Vending at the concert at Stumptown Park. The event was sponsored by Matthews Parks, Recreational, and Cultural Resource Department, and the Arts and Sciences Council. (Bottom right) Fireworks explode at one of the many neighborhood displays.

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#ThrowbackThursday: August 7, 2008

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. These editorials were originally published August 7, 2008.

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We need our own park that our families can enjoy

First, let me thank you for providing the citizens of the Matthews region an opportunity for residents to have our say over the intended use of the 20+ acres parcel along McKee & Pleasant Plains Rd.

As a resident of Matthews for over 17 years, I have witnessed the declining parcels of farm land deteriorate into new residential subdivisions, apartment complexes, and commercial properties long enough! We must convince the elected officials of the town that we must retain the remaining “green spaces” such as this for neighborhoods to enjoy! I vote no to any proposed “Park & Ride” parking lots, new school, museum, or any other use besides a community park.

While the Town of Matthews begins construction of a new Sportsplex, and enjoys the popularity of the MARA baseball and football fields, and the Siskey YMCA fields, no one can doubt Matthews has a healthy youth sports entertainment industry, however, these are not community parks!

The residnets of the McKee Rd./Weddington Rd./Pleasant Plains Rd. area made a sacrifice to allow the Windsor Run community to be developed. As the most contested rezoning issue in recent memory, the elected officials should consider the hornets’ nest that surrounds this property. Allowing anything other than a park would be undermining the public’s trust!

Many of the residents who rescinded their petitions did so with the understanding that a park would be constructed on this parcel - not a school, not a massive parking area, not another baseball or soccer complex! The residents have to put their trust into our elected leaders to look out for their best interests. The town should follow through with their obligation.

While I personally would love to see an 18-hole par 3 golf course on the property for our golf enthusiasts. I know this isn’t feasible. So why not make it into a neighborhood park similar to Idlewild Road Park or Stallings Park or some of the other neighborhood parks like the City of Charlotte enjoys? Why should we have to drive 5-6 miles to enjoy a day at the park? For nearly 17,000 residents who reside in this area of the town, we need our own park our families can enjoy.

~R. Smith, Matthews

Anything but a park would be wrong and regrettable

I live on the corner of Pleasant Plains and McKee Rd. in the two-story yellow house facing Pleasant Plains Rd. , opposite the donated 20-acre parcel. I vote NO to anything but a park!

I have read many, many articles and comments regarding the LAND and TREES in and around the Matthews area.

I recently read the responses published in the 7/31/08 Matthews Record issue, stating the opinions of several people and what to do with it. I feel that the pond will probably not be kept as part of a park plan because of the concerns regarding drownings. As for the planting of tress…I am not convinced the concern for trees in Matthews is as great as they would have us think.

In order to widen McKee Rd. they will be cutting down ALL the trees, including a 100+ year old tree. To put a turning lane off Pleasant Plains Rd. onto McKee Rd., they will be cutting down another 100+ year old tree, when they could, instead do the turn lane in such to avoid cutting down this tree.

I do realize that since the detour started because of Weddington Rd. shut-down, there have been a great many cars needing to turn left onto McKee Rd. off Pleasant Plains. So-o-o, there is a panic situation to get the turning lane done, NOW! Isn’t anyone thinking logically? Prior to Weddington Rd., shutdown there were not that many cars “lined up” to make that turn. (I know, I have lived here for over 10 years.) And the number of cars will decrease drastically after Weddington Rd. re-opens.

Leave the trees at Squirrel Lake!

There is plenty of open space at the corner of Pleasant Plains and McKee for a park, playground, a place to run & play, to picnic, to fly a kite, etc. If we wanted to live in a “concrete jungle” we would move to one. At least New York has Central Park.

~Patricial Willis, Matthews

The charm and appeal of land is too valuable to develop

Living in the Providence Hills neighborhood across from the Fincher farmland has afforded us many picturesque views (aside from the power lines) of the cows, the pond with it’s variety of waterfowl and even the old lean-to that has its own charm and appeal. It is so sad to see this property be gobbled up by development. We would like to see the Town of Matthews turn the 20 acres being donated into some sort of park, perhaps even with a stage and band shell to hold concerts and festivals that seem to be outgrowing Stumptown Park.

As for the pond, heaven forbid they fill it in! Not only would we miss the beauty of the summer sun as it glints off the water and the cool, quiet reflection of the occasional winter snow, but so many animals would miss its presence as well. Gone would be the Canadian geese, the ducks, the beautiful Egrets and even the odd looking Turkey Vultures. It would be great if they could incorporate the pond into whatever the new use of this property ends up being.

On a side note, every day that we get to see the cows grazing is such a treat to my family and we can’t help but be curious as to what will happen to them after the sale is completed. Could The Matthews Record do a little public interest article about the Fincher family or at least what they will do with their cows after they move?

~Mrs. Carla Norman

Preserve it now because once it’s gone…it’s gone

We MUST preserve the 20-acre parcel of land that has been donated to the town. Let’s keep our small town-feel and show our appreciation for one of the only spaces that we have left to relax and enjoy nature. We need the trees, the birds, the owls, the deer, the beavers, and all of the creatures that live there to be part of our village, too, because once it’s gone…it’s GONE!!!

~MNF, Matthews

#ThrowbackThursday: June 25, 2009

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published June 25, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Greenway moves forward

County Commissioners will decide in July, construction could begin in September

The Matthews Board voted Monday night to fund the Four-Mile Creek Greenway project that has been stalled due to county budget cutbacks.

On July 7 the Mecklenburg County Board will vote on the amended contract which would allow Matthews to pay for the project and be reimbursed when the voter approved Parks Bonds are sold.

Construction could begin as soon as September.

“September is the goal for construction to begin,” said an excited Julie Clark, County Greenway Planner.

“We’re thrilled that the Town of Matthews has stepped forward with the funding arrangement.”

The success of Four Mile Creek Greenway comes from a variety of sources, making it a true community effort. Approved back in 2005, the linear park will add green space, connectivity, and walking opportunities to an area increasingly besieged by vehicular growth and rapid development. Several hurdles including personal property concerns by adjacent land owners; county budget cuts and conflicting approaches to the design stalled the project.

But it’s back on the beam, due to a financing option by RBC bank, which helped the town take advantage of lower construction costs, in the current economy.

Town officials have been marking all the neighborhood pathways with signs.

The parkway will run from East John Street to Brenham Lane and from the confluence of Four Mile Creek north to the old Public Works building near Matthews Elementary School.

The County is responsible for the section from East John Street to Brenham Lane, which will include a boardwalk, paved trail, neighborhood entrances, and three pedestrian bridges.

The Town is responsible for the linear park from the old Public Works building north to South Trade street, including connection to the school.

#ThrowbackThursday: February 10, 1993

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News (also called Matthews Record and Matthews News and Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published February 10, 1993 and was written by the Matthews News staff.

Park development has been put on the front burner by Matthews town council at the urging of the town’s parks and recreation advisory committee.

“We want to proceed immediately with work on Sardis Road and Fullwood Park,” said Gary Palmer, head of the advisory committee. “It is particularly important that we get started on Sardis Park because the easement agreement with the City of Charlotte reads that the agreement may be terminated if a public park is not established in a reasonable amount of time.”

Monday night, the advisory committee submitted a cost estimate for development of both parks. As designed, Sardis-Matthews Park is an active park with volley ball court, a playground and a picnic area. Fullwood Park is termed a passive park and will have walking trails and a less structured play field where families can play a game of pick-up baseball or fly kites.

The committee proposes to construct Sardis-Matthews Park in three phases. The first phase would include a getting ready stage—clearing the land, installing proper drainage, landscaping, signs and gravel the parking area. It would also include the purchase and installation of picnic tables, barbecue grills and playground equipment. Total cost for phase I is $66,800.

During phase II, plans call for the construction of a picnic shelter, adding benches, installing a multipurpose playing field, providing more landscaping and installing a bike rack. This phase will cost $31,000.

Phases III plans include installing a 1/2 basketball court at a total cost of $11,000.

“It should be noted that the town did a development study back in 1990 on Sardis-Matthews Park and our update shows costs have remained relatively stable for the work,” said Palmer. “Therefore the opportunity still exists to complete these parks without significant increase in costs.”

According to a work schedule provided by the parks advisory committee, Sardis-Matthews Park could be ready for opening Labor Day weekend. The committee hopes that a bid advertisement can be published by April 24 with the project awarded in late May.

The advisory committee proposes to also do the work on Fullwood in three phases. Phase I would again be the necessary grading, providing property drainage, signs, gravel and lights. The plans also indicate a need for a 6-foot wide, 30-foot long bridge across a creek located in the park. This phase is expected to cost about $67,500.

Phase II includes necessary clean-up of the property from damage caused by Hurricane Hugo. According to the parks committee report, trees are down in the area and must be removed and the banks of a stream on the property need work. The second phase also calls for grading and paving of a parking lot. This phase is expected to cost about $13,500.

Phase III, fitting the planned trails in Fullwood with exercise stations will cost $10,000. It should be noted that all construction cost figures may be elevated if for instance crews run into problems.

The park committee also hopes this park can be ready in late August.

During last Monday night’s town council meeting, commissioners asked Palmer to discuss the work that needs to be done on the parks to see if some of it can be provided by town employees.

The town also is selling a strip of land which was included in the Squirrel Lake Park acquisition to Ashley Creek developer Don Galloway. The money realized from this sale could be used in whole or in part to pay for construction costs at Sardis-Matthews and Fullwood Parks.

#ThrowbackThursday: May 4, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 4, 2006 and was written by Jane Rosinski.

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Mass Transit/High Density Development: Do they mesh in Matthews?

Balancing a desire for mass transit with its corresponding call for high density development is the dilemma currently facing Matthews Town Commissioners. Mayor Lee Myers questioned the council’s support for transit in Matthews after last months 4-3 vote to deny a high density apartment complex near the Sam Newell park and ride station.

The Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) emphasizes the need for Transit Oriented Development near transit lines, and Myers pointed out that if Matthews wants this technology, supportive action through zoning is essential. “If we don’t get the density to support transit, we might not get any,” he said, reminding the board that neither light rail or bus rapid transit is a ‘done deal,’ with much competition for federal funding.

Discussion about the Southeast Transit Corridor followed a status report from Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) officials. Recommendations to the MTC on alignments, station locations and technology are expected to be made in June, and Myers wanted to clarify the board’s stance.

Commissioner James Taylor acknowledged the board may have sent a mixed signal with its recent zoning decision, but asserted that the question of how high is too high for Matthews remains when it comes to living units per acre. Is 14 units an acceptable standard, or, once approved, would council learn that that still isn’t high enough to meed federal guidelines, asked Taylor. Commissioner Kress Query, while favoring light rail, rejects the higher density requisites. “I don’t think we have enough vacant land in Matthews to provide the density CATS wants,” Query said.

“I am not selling out the town for mass transit,” said Commissioner Paul Bailey, who rejects any apartment plan and urged supporters to use what’s already in place.

Although no action was taken, Myers reminded the council that while transit doesn’t drive everything, traffic continues to be citizens’ top concern.

#ThrowbackThursday: May 25, 2006 Town Manager Proposes New Budget

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called The Matthews News & Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 25, 2006 and was written by Jessica Otto and Janet Denk.

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Last week we published the top article on this page, now let’s look at the town budget 13 years ago.

Town Manager Proposes New Budget for ‘06 - ‘07

Sparsely populated for a public gathering, Monday’s Town Board meeting included, among other things, the Town Manager’s Budget Recommendations for the fiscal year 2006-2007. Town Manager Hazen Blodgett, along with Assistant Manager Kay Plyler, Management Assistant Stuart Turille and Finance Director Christine Surratt, showed members of the Board that Matthews is in very good fiscal shape.

“This is a status quo budget,” Blodgett reported. “The Town has a healthy fund balance and there’s money in the bank.”

With a budget just over $16 million, balancing all the elements can be a bit harrowing. But, as Board members emphasized at the meeting, the proposals are well thought out and constructed and they have great faith in Blodgett’s expertise. The budget will be officially adopted on June 12.

Two new elements this year include a Town Vision Plan which was adopted last year and a Performance Measurement program which helps with financial accountability and effectiveness within each department. Thus far, the elements have enhanced the process.

The budget accounts for all the services the Town provides to its citizens. Property taxes are levied on land, buildings, and income-producing personal property. The amount of tax is based on the assessed value of the property and the tax rate. Residents of Matthews continue to enjoy a current rate of 30.75 cents per $100 valuation.

Town Council meetings are held the second and fourth Mondays at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 232 Matthews Station Street.

Projected Expenditures:

39% Public Safety
27% General Government
16% Transportation and Public Works
12% Environment, Health, Sanitation
6% Cultural & Recreation

#ThrowbackThursday: May 25, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called The Matthews News & Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published May 25, 2006 and was written by Jessica Otto and Janet Denk.

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Remembering Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day: Movement began nearly one hundred years ago as a tribute to those who died in battle

The yellow “Live Strong” bracelet and pink breast cancer awareness ribbon both owe a debt of gratitude for their marketing genius to a movement that began nearly one hundred years ago as a Memorial Day tribute to fallen heroes.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Then, the idea came to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during the war. She sold poppies to her friends and coworkers, with the money going to benefit the servicemen in need. The movement spread, and soon real and artificial poppies were being worn all over the world.

“Decoration Day” was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Twenty years later, the name was changed to Memorial day.

President Richard Nixon declared it a federal holiday in 1971, and Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday in May. Over time it has become an occasion to honor the men and women who died in all wars.

To see the monument built to honor those who served in WWII, the only 20th century event commemorated on the Washington, DC National Mall’s central axis, visit

#ThrowbackThursday: October 20, 2005

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News & Record (also called The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today.  This story was originally published October 20, 2005.

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Land use plan, transit site reviewed at public hearing

Charlotte Area Transit Authority’s insistence that a transit station south of I-485 have easy access to and high visibility from US 74 created a last minute revision to the land use plan prepared by Clarion Associates for the I-485 corridor and area surrounding the Levine campus of Central Piedmont Community College. When Roger Waldon of Clarion presented the land use recommendations for Matthews during a recent public hearing at town hall, the transit site was relocated from a site near CPCC parking area to one adjacent to the future McKee Road Extension.

The total proposal by Clarion, prepared following months of study of existing land use conditions, meetings with local elected and appointed leaders and public workshops, is now available for review on the Town website, as well as at town hall. The public is encouraged to comment prior to board action on the text changes to the land use plan.

In other business at the Oct. 10 regular council meeting, commissioners:

  • recognized the Matthews Alive! committee for another outstanding event, now in its thirteenth year. Noting the “strength of a community is its people”, Mayor Lee Myers commended the 2,464 volunteers, the EMS team, police, park and recreation department staff, public works employees, chamber of commerce representatives, and sponsors for their dedication to making this event a success. There were 140 arts and crafts vendors and 250 entries in the parade. Major corporate sponsors included Presbyterian Hospital Matthews, The Town of Matthews, Hendrick Motorsports, Alltel and Saturn. A total of thirty sponsors donated $107,000 to host the festival. Mayor Myers observed that Matthews Alive! may be the only festival of its kind that actually gives back to the community by benefiting the town’s nonprofit organizations. Volunteering their time and talents to serve on the board of directors for Matthews Alive! are Geralynn Trellue, Chair; Don Wygand, Corporate Sponsorship; Connie Culpepper, Parade Director; Patricia Laws, , Children’s Area Director; Carol Lawrence, Treasurer; Steve Cash, Family Fun Director; Robin Sanders, Food Vendor Director; and Jim Sanders, Logistics Director.

  • Approved a Resolution for Acceptance of Grant Funds of $8,578 through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program for the purchase of traffic-safety equipment which will include five dual-antennae radar units and five “stop stick” tire deflation systems.

  • Amended drug testing policy to include the Volunteer Fire Department.

  • Set two public hearings. On November 14 council will consider removal of stop signs at the intersection of Reverdy Lane and Matthews Mill Road, a fence height text amendment presented by Chase Harper, Kahn Properties’ petition for revisions to conditions to for the townhouse portion its Gateway project at Sam Newell and NC 51, and Southern Holding’s proposed text amendment on maximum building size in the downtown overlay district. Another hearing will be held on January 9, 2006 on the zoning change from R-20 to B-1 on the 400 block of Sam Newell Road proposed by T. Funderburk and B. Giles.

  • Approved the transfer of a town vehicle to the Volunteer Fire Department for use by the Fire Chief; approved $1,122,500 for the purchase of the Hulsey Property for development of a park at Phillips Road and NC 51; discussed school building needs in the community; appointed Suzanne Gulley to the Arts and Science Council with Kress Query as the alternate; approved $13,500 contract with RS&H Architects-Engineers-Planners for creating a conceptual design to make Trade Street more pedestrian friendly and slow traffic through downtown.

#ThrowbackThursday: August 29, 1991

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published August 29, 1991 and was written by Beverly Brock.

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Council seeks longer terms

by Beverly Brock

Do you want your town council to have four-year terms? That’s the decision Matthews citizens will be making this November as the current council seeks to lengthen and stagger council member terms from two years to four.

The current town charter requires all six council members and the mayor seat to be elected every two years. This same system is used by every publicly elected board in the county with the exception of the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board.

The Town Council could change the charter without a referendum, Matthews Mayor Shawn Lemmond said, but it could be challenged by a citizens petition. However, he said, he did not want this sort of major change to the council to be handled in that way and would rather a referendum be held in November. Even if the referendum passes, it would not go into effect until the 1993 elections when all the seats will once again become available.

“I don’t want to do this unless the people want it,” Lemmond said. But he sees many benefits to changing the charter.

The proposed changes would lengthen the term of a Council Member from two to four years. Lemmond and council members say two year terms are too short. “Out of 24 months, we spend six months on elections,” Lemmond said during a specially called meeting Tuesday, August 20. “I’ve had a lot of people say it’s crazy to have an election every two years.”

Commissioner David Bland agreed, “Every time we get close to the elections, everybody starts posturing and shying away from controversial issues.”

Bill Culp, supervisor of the Board of Elections, said there are benefits to a four-year term for new board members. “It generally takes an elected official to get up to speed,” he said. By the time an official learns the job, it’s time to run again.”

Lemmond also believes it will give council members more time to devote to the town and its issues. The resolution is not, however, changing the term of the mayor, which will continue to be elected every two years.

It does propose staggering the council terms so an election would still be held every two years, but only three council seats would be up for grabs at one time.

Wit the current system, Lemmond said, the town runs a chance of getting a new board an mayor with no experience or past knowledge of town issues. This lack of experience or would slow down and hamper the ability of the council to meet the growing needs of the town.

Lemmond used recent landscaping requirements and zoning changes the he contends would not have been accomplished with a new council.

The chances of that happening, however, are slim, said Culp. “They could theoretically be removed from office but the reality is the lines are not that long to run for office,” he said. “It’s hard to conceive an entire board being pushed out of office.”

If the referendum passed, then the 1993 elections would vote in six more council members. The top three vote-getters would have four year terms and the last three vote-getters would have two year terms. In 1995, when the three seats come up for election, those winners would have four year terms and the staggered system would be in place.

“Let’s face it, it’s easier to run in a field of six rather than a field of three,” Lemmond said. “You’ve really got to have the support behind you.”

Commissioner Ted Kiker said he felt the four-year terms would frighten off good candidates who were unsure of committing four years of service. Culp agreed. “The downside is that it’s harder to get people to make a four year commitment.”

If any Matthews resident has an opinion on extended or staggered terms, they will have a chance to express it during a public hearing set for Sept. 9 at town hall.

#ThrowbackThursday: January 15, 2009

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published January 15, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Wayward bird finds its way to Matthews

When he’s not poring over engineering reports and planning petitions, Matthews Planning Board member Jim Giles, above, enjoys feeding the birds in his Brightmoor subdivision backyard. The birder hit the jackpot when he spotted a Rufous Hummingbird at his feeder last week. Fellow birders/conservationists Carol Buie Jackson of HAWK and Bill Hilton, Jr. of the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History helped document the extraordinary event, as Rufous Hummingbirds breed in the western US and Canada, and winter in Mexico.

Hilton monitors vagrant hummingbirds in the eastern and central US and says hummers are being seen with increasing regularity during winter in the East, perhaps because more folks are leaving hummingbird feeders up after the traditional take-down date of Labor Day (September 1). The Matthews Record will have a full report in the next edition.

In the meantime, check out Jackson’s website at See what Hilton’s up to at

#ThrowbackThursday: February 21, 2008

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published February 21, 2008 and was written by Janet Denk.

Click on image to view larger

Economic Development in Matthews: Become proactive

Monday’s meeting at Town Hall highlights passion and perplexity around the topic

Matthews’ tax base is one of the town’s strongest suits and is the envy of neighboring communities. With the intention of maintaining a healthy blend of residential and commercial mix, the town staff hired a consultant to walk them through the process.

Their findings: A person or entity, hired by the town, and working with the Chamber, the Board, and an Advisory Board made up of community and business leaders, to proactively seek out development opportunities currently going to places like Ballantyne.

A joint meeting held Monday at Town Hall brought up a recurring them. Less dependence on residential and more on quality commercial projects, such as large offices which lure professional companies. The theory? Such employment centers would attract major employers that would live, work, and invest in the town.

A nasty word through this process has been “retail,” which flustered many local businesses who have followed this process. Several downtown landowners attended and worried about being overshadowed by the concept of major developers calling the bulk of the shots.

Bigger is not always better, was landowner Mary Yandel’s sentiment.

“People at Town Hall have a tendency to make decisions from their offices. They talk about all this vacant land or ‘potential land’ and ‘land use,’ as if they own it.”

As if, Yandel went on to explain, the landowners and their property and businesses are inconsequential.

A landowning individual from Riggsbee Salon on N. Trade was perplexed by the lack of discussion on property in downtown Matthews, particularly “retail,” which she said includes over a half-dozen individual tenants.

“Looking to our east [at Pineville], we can see what a heavy commercial tax base looks like,” pointed out Mayor Lee Myers, who attended the meeting, along with the entire Board of Commissioners, the Town Manager, and many department heads. “Looking to our west [at Mint Hill] we can see the effects of too residential tax base.”

Besides the tax base issue, the most important reason to invest in an Economic Development position, many said, would be that the Town would have a dedicated “Go To” person who can provide guidance to the town, and the developers interested in setting up shop in Matthews.

“We know the needs of businesses looking for a place to land,” said Matthews Chamber of Commerce Director Tina Whitley, “because we get the phone calls all the time. To have someone in a position to work with these inquiries would be great!”

Frank Warren, who facilitated the meeting, emphasized the function of an economic developer.

“They would not be making land use decisions, that’s the Planning Board’s function. They would not replace the Chamber of Commerce, as they have a distinct role in business development. This is about Matthews providing a place to do business and it’s about having someone in an advocacy role who can let all these other departments do their job.”

But many landowners and businesses in Matthews, particularly downtown, remain adamant about broadening discussions with regard to zoning and development. One of those is Jim Johnson who envisions, like many others, the downtown as an urban village with real businesses allowing local residents to do commonplace things.

“My benchmark for success will be when I can work, live, play, and shop without having to get in a car,” he said. “Walking and biking around the core of Matthews should be commonplace.”

Admittedly partial to downtown, Johnson speaks for many others, inside and outside the business community who reiterate the notion that Matthews leaders make creative development difficult.

“If we want to further economic development in Matthews,” Johnson said, “my advice would be to re-read the Vision Statements, re-write our zoning ordinance (to allow for more innovative development), talk witht eh landowners in our urban core and see what’s on their minds when it comes to development, and create the ED committee out of staff, commissioners, business owners, and developers.”

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Common curiosities about economic development

Q. Why discuss economic development in Matthews?

A. The Town of Matthews has a healthy blend of non-exempt ad valorem tax base with 66% residential and 34% commercial and is seeking a plant to maintain this balance. The strategic economic development currently being studied in Matthews is focusing on the vacant land around the I-485 and Independence Interchange. The goal is to strengthen Matthews’ economic muscle and positioning itself on a broader employment playing field. Matthews has a lot to offer high-end employment centers, but there isn’t an entity in town that actively “recruits” potential investors. By attracting the right projects, the town will reap the tax base that comes from commercial tax revenues, which in turn will feed the local economy and contribute to the quality of work and life.

Q. We already have company headquarters in town? Why Invest in luring more?

A. Matthews location off the interstate, along with its fine quality of life can be a major draw for large industries. As southern Mecklenburg County and northern Union County continue to grow, Matthews is missing out on some major investors who want to take advantage of the airport, weather, cost of living, and general economy. Within ten years, maybe less, Independence Blvd. will become a limited-use freeway, making the need for redevelopment of land and property along that corridor equally important.

Q. Is this a one-time event or does it have an ongoing purpose?

A. Economic development provides activities and programs aimed at improving the local and regional economies. It helps to attract and create opportunities, which help to expand the tax base, increase jobs, wages, and personal incomes.

Economic development plans can cause a “ripple effect".” From their impact springs a range of related commercial activities and services. For example, Presbyterian Hospital of Matthews has served as an economic engine for medical offices and support services surround it at Sam Newell and Highway 51. The proposed Small Area Plan adjacent to the future Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in the target area mentioned above will spawn a wide variety of recreational businesses, hotels, restaurants, and other tourism and commercial enterprises.

Historic downtown Matthews is in dire need of special attention, as business owners see long term success and residents have access to meaningful shopping to compliment the outlying areas. Discussions are underway about supporting (and growing) useful and relevant development such as food stores and services like cafes, boutiques, restaurants, retail, and residential.