Throwback Thursday

#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.

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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.

#ThrowbackThursday: March 22, 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 March 22, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Community that honors its trees, is a healthy one

The Benefits of Trees in the Community

Environmental Benefits

Reduction of pollution. Trees absorb carbon dioxide produced by automobiles, creating cleaner air. They reduce noise pollution on busy streets and create a barrier for private areas. Trees also reduce water runoff, stabilize soil and filter pollutants, reducing costs associated with storm water control and water treatment facilities.

Economic Benefits

When strategically placed, trees can decrease utility bills by up to 50 percent. Property values of homes with tress or homes located near city parks are reportedly 20 percent higher. In addition, studies show that businesses on tree-lined streets experience a 12 percent increase in sales versus those without trees.

Social Benefits

Trees and green spaces do more than provide shade or a place to play. Neighborhood parks and gardens encourage tighter-knit communities, which lowers local crime rates. Research shows that productivity at businesses with outdoor areas is higher while stress and aggression levels are lower. Children also benefit from being exposed to green. Students who have a view of trees and greenery are proven to perform better at school.

Arbor Day celebrations across the nation will have impacted the earth in many ways. Hundreds of volunteers will have planted more than 1,000 large trees and even more seedlings across the country.

Check out to learn more.

Matthews celebrated Arbor Day last Friday at the Matthews Community Center. Rainy weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance. “The event was the largest Arbor Day gathering ever in Matthews, with well over one hundred adults and children present,” Town Landscaper Pat Meehan said. Several awards were given to members of the community for their efforts in tree planting and promoting tree awareness in the community. A group of enthusiastic fourth graders from Christ Covenant School received special recognition for finding and nominating a state championship tree right here in Matthews - a sourwood tree located on their school grounds.

The South Windsor Homeowners Association were recognized for their group effort in creating a special place for trees in the community. Their teamwork and commitment have been lauded as the kind of volunteerism that mayor Lee Myers is seeking to make this community great. Almost a hundred kids, ages 2 through 12, listened to the speakers and participated in a number of educational activities that were arranged by the Parks and Recreation staff. Erin Reed of the Matthews Areas Secular Cooperative gave an important and heartfelt speech on her love affair with trees.

“It was a great event,” Meehan reiterated. “The celebration was all about the importance of trees in our community.”

He applauded the work of the town’s landscape division, who planted and maintained over 100 trees this season. “They did a great job,” he said of the staff, “and down the road, this town will be a much better - and greener community because of what they have accomplished.”

We are grateful to all the volunteers dedicated to revitalizing urban forests. Their continued support helps us create inspiring and educational Arbor Day Celebrations. In addition, it amplifies our year round efforts to communicate the importance which trees have in controlling global warming, reducing pollution and noise levels, and contributing to improved lifestyles in many other ways.”
— John Rosenow, President of the National Arbor Day Foundation.

#ThrowbackThursday: May 21, 2009

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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 May 21, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

The King of Camp

Corey King has given Matthews a decade of fun and games

If you’ve been involved with fun and games in Matthews over the last decade, you’ve seen Corey King.

You can’t miss him among the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department. He’s the guy with the legendary smile. For a department whose mantra is, “we work, so you can play!” - he makes it look easy.

“He works hard but always seems to be having fun,” commented co-worker Colton Marble.

Maybe King’s Fun Factor has something to do with being able to integrate his family with his job. After all, who else better qualified to make playtime fun, than his children? His own - Gabrielle, 12, and Justin, 7, have grown up on accompanying their daddy on parade floats, runways, playscapes, and park missions. Since moving here with his family from Greenville, NC in 1999, he’s been one of the few park and rec staff members who actually has kids. He’s been gearing up with his coworkers to help a whole lot of other kids get planted in park programs, summer camps, nature, and art projects.

“There’s a great sense of accomplishment after a successful program or event,” King said.

His responsibilities involve working with the Public Works Department maintaining town parks, including everything from playground inspection to helping resolve park issues. He works on special holiday events, Summer Concerts and Movies, his office is at the Crews Road Rec Center, and he can be spotted at Matthews Alive Festival.

Then there’s Camp FunShine and all those kids camps.

Seems kids are one of his specialties. Public Works Director Ralph Messera, whose department crosses paths with King’s all the time, knows about that specialty for certain.

“Corey’s done a great job in bringing programs to the parks, especially those oriented towards children.”

Hired in January of 2000, King has worked with three Parks Directors, always with that same easy style. Mayor Lee Myers recognizes that style and appreciates it.

Asked to describe Corey King, Myers didn’t flinch.

“A man with a smile on his face and in his heart. One of the reasons Matthews’ Park and Rec is head and shoulders above all others.”

P & R Director at the time, Leigh Baggs, hired King.

“I have loved every moment since,” he said about his work. “I have worked with some very smart and creative people. A lot is going on in this area these days.”

These days are different than when he first arrived. First off, the “old” Town Hall building was next to the “old” Police Station which fronted N. Trade Street and the programs weren’t nearly as plentiful. But the kids just kept on coming.

“We delivered programs in what was a dentist’s office, in a strip mall, then located where Beantown and those shops are now. We did what we could with what we had,” King says about the “olden days.” “Aerobic kickboxing, Tai Chi, and a few other programs were housed in that space, along with the old Matthews Playhouse stage. “We used the Butler High School cafeteria for the Halloween Carnival and the Easter event was held on the Butler Soccer fields. Now we have the Matthews Community Center and the Crews Road Recreation Center and almost four times the number of staff. The best part of the job is the people that I work with - the Parks and Recreation ‘family'.”

His other family - wife Christine and those two beautiful children, help round out the King of Camp. A graduate of East Carolina University with a BS in Management of Recreational Facilities and Services, King is currently pursuing an MA Degree in Public Administration at UNCC. Life’s busy, but it’s good.

“Believe me when I say, ‘It’s a great day in Matthews!’”

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#ThrowbackThursday: March 12, 2009

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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 March 12, 2009.

Back to reality

Spring fever has officially begun. Matthews has had five straight days of perfect weather after cold, snow and rain just last week.

Almost overnight plants seemed to pop out of the ground, trees began to blossom, and being out in the yard seemed a relief instead of a chore.

But every god thing must come to an end and temperatures will get a little more realistic as clouds and rain move in.

#ThrowbackThursday: February 23, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News and Record  (also called Matthews News and Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today.  This story was originally published February 23, 2006.

With the land being cleared for apartments at 10252 Monroe Road, this article explains the significance of the cemetery on the rear portion of the property.

Old Cemetery Tells Stories of Matthews’ African American Community

By Janet Denk

The unmarked Roseland Cemetery gets only a handful of visitors these days. Tucked back in the woods off Monroe Road on private property belonging to the Renfrow family of Matthews, the African American cemetery has all but disappeared beneath pine trees and rambling vines.

Periwinkle crawls across a few marked headstones. Other graves are marked by large stones the rudimentary markers used by people at the time. Depressions in the undulating landscape indicate rows and roes of sunken graves.

The cemetery served as the primary burial ground for members of Tank Town’s Roseville AME Zion church, which had an active congregation until 1928. The church, located on Ames Road near the railroad tracks, was abandoned and eventually collapsed.

Residents were share croppers or day laborers in Matthews. Many farmed or worked on the railroad. Tank Town was the original African American community neighboring Matthews, named because it was the site of the water tank used to supply steam engine trains.

Known today as Crestdale, annexted in 1998, the area is developing rapidly. The rise of housing developments and the natural outgrowth of I-485 will directly impact the area.

The Roseland (Roseville) Cemetery is an important part of Matthews history.

“One of my twins is buried over there. My mother and grandmother, too,” says longtime Crestdale resident Viola Boyd.

Like many African American cemeteries throughout the state, Roseland is rich with the history. Many descendants of people in these resting places have moved or died or were unable to maintain them. The location of many cemeteries like Roseland is difficult to find - giving the impression of being abandoned and uncared for. Back when the area was mostly rural, traveling to the gravesites after the original burial meant traveling long distances by surreys, mule carts, and ox carts.

Residents in the surrounding subdivisions are aware of the old cemetery. Many recall an elderly gentleman who, year after year, came on Mother’s Day to lay flowers on a grave. The say he doesn’t come anymore.

A storehouse of African American history and cultural identity lies beneath that soil.

Mrs. Boyd, speaking with local historian Paula Lester, is one of the surviving links to Crestdale’s past. Born just after the turn of the century, Mrs. Boyd and other elderly folks like her are treasured resources. Her son and caretaker, Harvey Boyd, is a tireless proponent of historical understanding.

They are not alone in their desire to see Roseland Cemetery preserved.

Local citizens - black and white, native and newcomer - are committed to taking care of this historically important part of Matthews. The 50-plus acres of land where the cemetery sits has been eyed by developers for single family homes, but the zoning restrictions have kept them away. The land is still up for zoning.

Whoever develops the land, by state law, will be responsible for moving the graves or putting a fence around the cemetery. The development of that property could be years from now. But many feel that the gravesites occupying a small area within that property should be addressed much sooner.

Interested citizens would like to see the cemetery portion of the land deeded to the Matthews Historical Foundation, in order to secure funding for upkeep. Paula Lester and Harvey Boyd are currently working on the development of a committee which can devote more time to the cemetery.

“People have to understand their past, in order to appreciate what they’ve got now,” Boyd says.

If you are interested in being a part of this effort, please contact Harvey Boyd at 704-847-4983 or Paula Lester at 704-847-7610.

#ThrowbackThursday: June 26, 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 story was originally published June 26, 2006.

Labor of Love

Garden oasis a familiar and refreshing sight in Matthews

Anyone who has driven by James Grier’s home on Sardis Road, just before Highway 51, is familiar with the precise rows and varying shades of green growing in his garden. Grier refers to the well-tended earth as a ‘hobby out of control.’ But, to say he’s being modest would be an understatement.

What drivers don’t see as they speed by, are the five or six other finely manicured fields of vegetables behind his home. Also the pond, the fig and apple trees, the grape vines, the mounds of mulch, the greenhouse - where he begins the process in early January - or just the tranquility of it all.

It started in 1992 after Grier’s retirement and three major surgeries. Something worthwhile to fill the time. “It’s been a lot of fun,” said Grier.

He sells his home grown produce under a shady tree off a cart in front of his property. He uses the honor system and expects folks to share the goods.

“If the cart’s not on the road, we’re not open,” Grier said. The cart is out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

“I don’t like greedy people,” the gentleman farmer said. He’s referring to those who take more than a fair share of the early pickings. “This old man is trying the best he can.”

Not much goes to waste in Grier’s hands, whether it’s the PVC pipe mounted on his truck for fishing poles, scraps for his mulch pile supplied by landscapers in the fall, or leftovers off his truck.

“We just gave 100 pounds of squash and potatoes to a local church who passed them on to the needy,” said son-in-law Andy Ollis. Both men work the land daily, with Ollis doing most of the heavier labor.

“We still enjoy it,” he mused, “and the people who come by sure appreciate it.” The include people from all around - Pineville, Waxhaw, Huntersville.

When asked how long the farmer would keep the place going, Ollis replied, “I don’t know how many times he’s been asked to sell,” he said about his father-in-law, “But eventually he will.”
And Matthews will be poorer because of it.

#ThrowbackThursday: March 23, 2006 MARA Prepares for its 50th Anniversary

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

In the fifties, a group of Matthews’ parents decided that the community needed a Little League baseball program. The parents met in an informal meeting in the basement of the Baptist Church and began their dream.

There was no playground or park in Matthews. Arthur Goodman (1896-1959), an attorney, a member of the North Carolina Legislature and a non-resident of the Matthews Community, had at that time passed away and his widow, Mrs. Katherine Goodman, donated the land in his memory. She allowed the construction of a Little League field on three acres of their land in Matthews. The Matthews Area Recreation Association, a non-profit organization whose function would be to own and operate the Little League Field for all in the farming and rural community of Matthews, was born. This field, built in the spirit of volunteerism and giving, was Field #1 at the Arthur Goodman Memorial Park.

The backstop was chicken wire nailed to used telephone poles and the bases were burlap bags.

As the years passed, the MARA changed, the number of players grew and soon dugouts and storage rooms became a must. These became the first permanent structures at the park. Later, an old snow cone booth became the first semi-permanent concession stand. It was soon replaced by their now existing concrete and brick structure.

The group started planning again and decided that the Little League Baseball Program needed to be expanded and the community needed a complete park — one that would offer a program for girls. The group asked Mrs. Katherine Goodman and Arthur Goodman, Jr. (1927-2003), and his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Klein, if they would help once again. The all answered without hesitation - “If you need to expand the park and enlarge the program, how much land is needed?” It was decided that twelve additional acres would meet the needed requirement and the family said, “Get the deal ready for signing — the twelve acres are yours!”

Now MARA had the land, but little or no money; so they met with Matthews Over Seas Veterans Club. At a special meeting the entire Veteran’s Club Treasury was donated to Arthur Goodman Memorial Park. With the agreement came the understanding that two tennis courts would be included in the park expansion.

MARA acquired materials as reasonably as possible. Moms and Dads did the actual physical work. Tennis courts were built, the old house under the big tree on the hill was demolished and the tractor, storage and bathroom building was completed.

Chicken wire fences came down, new chain link fences were erected, the parking lot was graded, the big boys baseball field (major league size) was graded and girls softball organized. A Junior League football program was started. The Moms and Dads borrowed $5,000 to grade the land and erect fences on the new fields. In 1974, two new dugouts for the big boys baseball field were donated.

In 1983, MARA acquired 6.5 acres of land adjoining the park and started IMY — “Invest in Matthews Youth” — a funding vehicle with a goal of $100,000 to pay for the land and build more fields. The decade ended with continued growth in the Matthews area and continued stress on their size and field limits.

In the early 1990’s, a multipurpose field was converted to two additional soccer fields. Their Little League program was expanded to two franchises allowing additional teams. A membership capital campaign began and allowed much needed aesthetic improvements such as new signs, score boards, and sidewalks. From humble beginnings, they approached the millennium with much enthusiasm for continued growth.

Arthur Goodman Memorial Park has come a long way from its sparse beginning to a beautifully lighted complex where baseball, softball, soccer, and football are played almost year round. Great pride can be felt by every child and parent, player and coach, sponsor and members of the Matthews Community who have given freely of their time, money, talents, resources, and efforts in the same spirit of volunteerism that Arthur Goodman and his wife, Katherine, were shown in the beginning.

In 2006, their Capital Campaign continues, as does their growth and needs. The goals for Arthur Goodman Park are significant, which are diagrammed in the signs throughout the park. Obviously the number of improvements undertaken will depend greatly upon the amount of money raised through Capital Campaign efforts and fundraising.

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The children of Matthews and surrounding areas have benefited from all that MARA has to offer. It is up to all of us to ensure that MARA continues to thrive as a sports complex that is not only modern and safe, but is a place of pride as the children compete in a variety of sports activities for years to come. MARA provides sports programs that serve over nineteen hundred area boys and girls annually and has grown to be one of the largest youth sports associations in the state.

With this being the 50th anniversary of MARA, the annual opening day event has been expanded to include a Friday night event as well. Plans are for the event to occur April 7 and 8 at Goodman Park. All area families are invited to attend the festivities at the park. Special guests, food vendors, a silent auction, sports celebrities, and an array of activities for kids to enjoy are planned. All former MARA players from the last fifty years are encouraged to contact the association regarding this event. You may contact MARA at 704-847-0752 or visit

Here’s to the next fifty years of sports at Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association and all the kids they will serve along the way. HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY!!