Throwback Thursday

#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 www.arborday.org 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 www.marasports.org.

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!!


#ThrowbackThursday: June 15, 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 15, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

Town leaders on Monday night overwhelmingly supported a plan to work and build a regional Sportsplex facility, in partnership with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, on land at Independence and I-485.

The nearly 160-acre area, owned by the County, is adjacent to property in Matthews referred to as the “Small Area Plan” which has been earmarked, since 1999, for a mixed-use development that would include business, residential and recreational facilities.

Money for the project would come from the Occupancy and Prepared Food Tax.

“This is a solid source of funding,” Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said, “because the folks who use it will be the ones who pay for it.”

A $25 million bond referendum approved by voters in November 2004, and to be used by 2007, includes $8 million for partnership projects such as this one set before Matthews. Matthews proposes to commit $2 million to the project.

The project is still in conceptual phase, though submitting an application was imperative this week. Areas all over Mecklenburg County will be submitting proposals, so the The Town Manager, along with the Parks Department, the Planning Department and the Town Commissioners, were scrambling to get the process underway. A special public meeting was held before last week’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan Workshop.

Currently both Cary and Greensboro have high quality soccer complexes but the Charlotte region is lacking. The plan, bu the County, is to design a state-of-the-art regional facility to compete for tourism dollars with associated field team sports.

“This is huge,” said Matthews Parks, Recreation and Cultural Department Director Geralynn Trellue. “We’re not thinking, ‘Just Matthews. Or just soccer.’ We’re thinking of the bigger picture. That means maximum use for this, almost 300-acre area.”

The fact that the facility will be run by the County and used more than 80% by local citizens makes the project attractive for many. The NCAA, ACC and other tournaments will make this a solid attraction. The Keith Corporation of Charlotte has committed to developing a family-entertainment complex within the proposed area, which would include hotels, restaurants and much more.

“We want to support this idea and get things underway so it can become an economic drive for the community,” said Blodgett whose Budget for fiscal year 2006-7 was adopted at last Monday’s meeting.

Brendon Pierce, of the Keith Corporation, shared information about comparable facilities and has worked several years on projects such as this. He comments Matthews’ involvement. This is the ideal land for this type of project,” he explained.

Town Commissioner Bill Dixon, who worked on the Parks and Recreation Board when this idea first came through in 2000, voted along with his colleagues in favor of the project. However, he urged caution. “Let’s avoid the slippery slope,” he said with regard to the debt service on such an ambitious project. “Are we okay in that department?” he glanced at Blodgett. The Town Manager returned a very comfortable nod in the affirmative.

#ThrowbackThursday: June 18, 2009

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 18, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Crestdale at the Crossroads

Group seeks to create a piece of work that will preserve the history of the Crestdale community and its people

They called it a Crestdale Reunion - and it had all the makings of one: food, family, laughter, some tears. But the gathering at the United House of Prayer was a chance for members of the longstanding Matthews community to pay tribute to loved ones gone before, honor their elders, and celebrate their journey.

The most recent journey in the Crestdale area of Matthews is The Crestdale Community Project - a collaborative effort of community and arts groups celebrating the history and cultural stew that is Crestdale. The past couple of weeks have been part of a Kick-Off event scheduled for July 11. Pastor Greg Watson of the United House of Prayer welcomed guests. The church has generously offered space to the Crestdale Community Project supporters which will include a series of workshops around town focusing on fine art, music, storytelling, film making, and more. The Matthews Community Center will also be offering work space. Project participants are hoping other groups step up to host workshops, too.

Through a grant from Crossroads Charlotte, the Arts & Science Council is partnering with the The Light Factory and fiber artist Sunya Folayan to create a piece of work that will preserve the history of the Crestdale community and its people. All of the work produced will be placed in a formal exhibit this winter in various locations throughout Matthews.

“It’s time taht all the communities in the area come together in tribute to share the history and culture of Crestdale with the rest of Matthews, and the surrounding area,” said Walter Stewart, who was joined by Harvey Boyd and other life-long residents of the area who attended the first two meetings planned for The Crestdale Community Project.

The Crestdale neighborhood is one of the oldest African American communities in the nation, established soon after the Civil War. Located along the railroad tracks in Matthews, between old Highway 51 and Charles Street, the community has become home to a patchwork of different cultural communities. Habitat for Humanity Matthews is located within the Crestdale Community, including Fullwood Trace, a modest neighborhood of brick homes off Charles St. Sunrise Crossing is the newest development. Rainbow Ridge is home to many Montagnard families. Pronounced “mountain-yard,” the term is French for “mountain dweller” or “mountain people.” North Carolina is one of the largest settlements for Montagnards, who fought alongside US Special Forces during the Vietnam Conflict. Crestdale Crossing is a subdivision of one and two-story bungalow-style single family homes with green space shared by all. It was developed on land belonging to the Stewart family.

The Light Factory promotes the power of image by informing, challenging, and stimulating audiences using photography, film, and other light-based media to see their world through a different lens. It is located in Spirit Square in uptown Charlotte.

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#ThrowbackThursday: January 22, 2009

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 January 22, 2009 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Dreams of the Promised Land

Viola Boyd has lived nearly 100 years. All of it in Matthews. As a witness to a century of civil rights struggle, she will finally see the dream realized.

“He’s allowed me to go up the mountain!”

The preacher was referring to his sovereign Lord who had blessed him with the gift of heart, mind, and speech.

“I looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land,” he told a jam-packed room in Memphis that evening back in 1968. Then hauntingly added, “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

These powerful words were refreshing to people like Viola Teeter Boyd, who was halfway through her life when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave that speech.

Like any Christian woman, she understood intimately through her faith that she would make it to the Promised Land.

The Bible told her so.

But, being black in the segregated south told her something completely different. It told her that, despite having her own business in a home that she and her husband Sam built on their own land, where they raised four kids, that they were second class citizens.

This was not God’s rule. This was man’s rule. And man’s ways can change.

For what good were rules which allowed her to vote as a woman, but denied her the right as a black?

Battle cries, such as those articulated by Dr. King, were being heard around the world.

And things changed.

This week, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, was cause for lively discussion in the Boyd home in Matthews, which today includes the matriarch and her last surviving son, Harvey Boyd, who buried his brother Calvin this past month.

“Lord no!” Mrs. Boyd replied when asked if she thought she would ever see a black man become president in her day. She will turn 90 years old this summer. Mrs. Boyd is practical about the election, if not politically-minded.

“Aren’t we blessed? But, let’s just see, “ she added, the product of a people with a lifetime of dreams deferred.

Son Harvey, a senior citizen himself, articulates the artist’s heart.

“This is an exciting time,” he said about the election of an African American president. A time of renewed hope and inclusion for all people. “It’s a chance for the world to see America living out all the dreams they represent. This is a victory for all people.”

Mrs. Boyd’s practical nature, or perhaps her memory, is what caused her to blurt out, when discussing the foibles of powerful men in office, “they would’ve hung him, in my day.”

That practical nature cautions her to remember that men are not gods.

Viola Teeter’s world began right here in Matthews in 1910. Most likely, it will end here, in her house on Crestdale Road.

Married at 14 years old, she moved to Philadelphia when Sam was looking for work up there.

“I didn’t like it, there were too many buildings,” said the small town girl who moved back south. The couple became the first black couple to really settle in the area of Matthews known today as Crestdale. Sam Boyd worked for the railroad and became known as the Mayor of Crestdale, for his community activism. Viola opened a beauty shop in her home.

“Customers came from all over the place…Monroe, Charlotte,” she said. “That’s how I got to know so much about people.”

That, and her practical nature.

Harvey Boyd said his mother was a voracious reader - newspapers, magazines, church bulletins, anything she could get her hands on. She was also an Angel of Mercy - part of a group of women who lent others less fortunate a helping hand.

“Some people couldn’t pay me for their hair. I’d say, ‘Can’t you pay me just a little?’ Then I’d find out that somebody lost a job or they ran out of money and didn’t know what to do. So I showed them how to get what was theirs,” she recalled.

Harvey said his mother helped with dozens of people in the area with medical or insurance benefits and claims. Many had no money, or a means to take care of themselves because they were not taught. Poverty didn’t help.

“I just opened my mouth,” she confessed, when asked how she learned to navigate a system that didn’t always work in her favor. “We didn’t have a lot of education, but we had knowledge!”

She squirreled away every dime she earned from her business and whatever else she could scrape up from watching other people’s children.

“I jimmied the lock, so couldn’t nobody get in the box where I put the money,” she laughed. She collected paper and cans for recycling cash. Then she took $10,000 in cash to Wachovia.

“I don’t think the man believed me. But I had it.” Whatever interest she earned, she put right back in. “I wanted to make that money grow,” she said with great animation. Her three favorite presidents were Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Carter. The last one, she says, because her CDs did well.

Practicality and determination keep Viola Teeter Boyd going.

And dreams of the Promised Land continue to make the trip worthwhile.

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#Throwback Thursday: September 27, 2007

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 September 27, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk. Layout and graphics created by Jim Denk.

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A trip from Library Lane

With talk of pedestrian-friendliness and traffic concerns all the rage this election year, The Matthews Record wants to help illustrate the simple act of walking to the post office to mail a letter. Not quite three blocks away, this simple act is wrought with frustration. Let’s take a walk.

  1. From Library Lane, we walk to one of the most popular corners in downtown, S. Trade Street at W. Charles. Navigating three lanes of moving traffic and two parking lanes, the crosswalk is clearly marked. But try telling that to the cars dashing through downtown.

  2. Arriving safely on the other side, we stroll along the building housing a law firm, a portrait shop, and a child’s consignment store. The landscape is generous, the sidewalk is not.

  3. Squeezing through a narrow space between the building and the parked cars, we dead end into a couple of trash cans and a wrought iron rail. This requires stepping into traffic followed by a blind corner in order to cross Cotton Gin Alley.

  4. The sidewalk picks up again until we reach the back side of the Matthews Post Office entrance.

  5. The sidewalk stops abruptly, forcing us into the drop-off/drive through lane.

  6. The sidewalk picks up again and, if we’re lucky, our letter can be mailed inside.

#ThrowbackThursday: January 26, 2006

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News & Record (also called Matthews Record and The Matthews News) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published January 26, 2006 and was written by News & Record staff.

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Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department Appreciation Banquet

At their annual recognition dinner on January 13, members of the Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department recognized Tommy Rogers who is stepping down as the department’s fire chief. Rogers has served as chief for eight years and as assistant chief for 19 years prior to that. He joined the department in 1975, shortly after it was organized.

During Rogers’ tenure as cheif, the department added two new vehicles, completed a major addition and renovation to the fire station, and added paid employees to the roster for the first time to supplement the volunteer staff during the daytime hours. Prior to becoming chief, Rogers was instrumental in establishing the department as a medical first responder in 1991. He will continue to serve the department as an assistant chief focusing on emergency medical services. Jay Alexander stated hew was glad Tommy was not going too far away. “He has been faithful and dependable and almost from day one has helped set the direction of the fire department and enabled them to get to where they are today,” he said.

Also recognized at the dinner was Captain Brian White - Officer of the Year; Captain Tony Bresina - EMT of the year; and Scott Blevins - Firefighter of the Year.

The new fire chief at Idlewild is Ron Cheves. Cheves is a 22 year veteran of the department and has previously served as captain and assistant chief. Prior to coming to the Idlewild department, Cheves served with fire departments in Guilford County, NC and Knox County, TN.

Currently serving with Cheves and Rogers are assistant chiefs Mike Pressley and Jay Garbus.

Matthews Mayor Lee Myers pointed out the Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department was a group that gives back and makes a difference in the lives of the people in the community. Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said the Department was a family in the business of saving lives. Dr. Tom Blackwell was the guest speaker who discussed Med 1 and it’s members’ trip to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

The Idlewild Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1975 to provide improved protection for the then unincorporated area between Matthews and Mint Hill. Although legally a new organization, the Idlewild department inherited the legacy of the Oakhurst Volunteer Fire Department, which ceased operations that same year due to annexations by the City of Charlotte. Today most of the Idlewild response area lies within the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill and the department has contracts with both towns as well as the County. The original fire station at 10241 Idlewild continues to serve the department, although it has undergone a series of expansions and renovations. The station has recently been remodeled with living quarters for eight fire fighters and two officers. The department can also be used as an emergency shelter for the community in times of extreme weather conditions or natural disaster.

The department is primarily funded by contributions from area residents in the form of fire dues. It also receives funding from the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill and from Mecklenburg County.

#ThrowbackThursday: February 22, 2007

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 February 22, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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CMS Learning Communities, construction discussed

Former Butler principal Joel Ritchie, who was named the first area superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last month, was back on his old stomping grounds last Monday.

Not in the Butler Bulldog pen, but rather at Town Hall, delivering information about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ decentralization plan. He was joined by CMS executive director of Facilities Planning and Real Estate, Mike Raible, who talked about construction.

Decentralization

CMS will decentralize into six geographic areas based on growth projections and municipal and neighborhood boundaries. Each area ranges from 17,000 to 25,000 students. The initial cost estimate for the decentralization and establishment of area offices is about $8 million. The goal is to help each school become more closely aligned with the community it serves, and it will put resources and administration closer to parents and other members of the public. An area superintendent will lead each of the six areas, dubbed learning communities. A seventh area, called the Achievement Zone, contains 10 schools with low test scores and high needs.

Construction

The school system needs $2.5 billion for construction over the next decade to keep up with explosive growth and enrollment, according to CMS officials.

The two main proposals are where to spend the money and how to build the schools. Superintendent Peter Gorman is calling for building more suburban schools and fewer renovations closer to the center city. A panel that included educators, designers, and contractors recommended about 75 ways to save money. Some of the cuts are sore spots for different areas - for instance - having high schools share football stadiums and auditoriums.

#ThrowbackThursday: March 16, 2006

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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 March 16, 2006.

Grand Opening of the Levine Senior Center

Over thirty years ago, a group of mature adults began meeting and called themselves the Happy Times Club. As their numbers increased, the group realized there was a need for a place that reaches out to the growing number of seniors. That dream was realized Sunday with the Grand Opening of the Levine Senior Center located at 1050 DeVore Lane off Northeast Parkway across from the Sycamore Commons Shopping Center. Approximately 600 people attended, filling the parking lot of the Senior Center and spilling over into Dick’s Sporting Goods store where they were taken by bus up to the center. The weather could not have been more perfect for the opening. As Reverend John Butler from First Baptist Church said, “This is the fulfillment of a dream and will be a blessing for many years to come for the entire community.”

Congresswoman Sue Myrick presented the Providence High School Navy Junior ROTC, under Lt. Commander Larry Parker, with a United States flag. State of North Carolina Speaker of the House Jim Black presented the ROTC with a North Carolina state flag. Jan Burris, representing Leon Levine Foundation (Leon and Sandra Levine), presented the ROTC with a Levine Senior Center flag. Nancy LaFond sang the National Anthem. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the cornerstone was unveiled. The ribbon on the entrance to the center was but by Iris DeVore, the Levine Senior Center Board of Directors, the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, and Levine Center Employees. Attendees then proceeded to the Happy Times Banquet Hall inside the center. Steve Combs, Pastor at Matthews United Methodist Church offered the opening prayer. Mayor Myers welcomed everyone. There was not an empty seat in the room. Attendees two deep surrounded those seated in the Happy Times Banquet Hall and spilled into the hallways and kitchen.

Speaker Jim Black noted, “this was one of the best private/public partnerships anywhere.” Speaker black was very instrumental in getting grants from the State of North Carolina for $20,000 last year and $200,000 this year. Speaker black noted his third-grade teacher, Margaret Phillips, was in attendance and they had a rich heritage. He also noted that Mayor Lee Myers had worked tirelessly getting the center to be a reality. Speaker Black commented that it was wonderful to see so many people for the Grand Opening and noted the many years of service the center offered and the possibilities for its use was endless.

Mayor Myers gave a brief history of the center. IN November 2000, Crosland and Faison donated 9.8 acres of prime property to assist in the center’s development. Council members Kress Query and Martha Krauss were extremely instrumental in obtaining this donation. Non-profit status was acquired and plans were completed to build the 19,500 square foot building that offers exercise programs, educational classes, and social stimulation. In 2003, the Leon and Sandra Levine Foundation challenged seniors with a three to one match up to $1,000,000. This challenge was met with the help of a generous community and the center was named the Levine Senior Center. Mayor Lee Myers and Councilmember Paula Lester were most instrumental in obtaining this donation. Opening this week, the center will offer a variety of services and activities that respond to diverse needs and interests while enhancing the dignity and independence of mature adults. The center will also serve as the community resource for information on aging and support services.

Jan Burris read a letter from Leon and Sandra Levine to Iris DeVore, applauding her for her dedication, hard work, and love she had poured into making the Levine Senior Center a reality. Mr. Levine stated that she had made a real difference to the Town of Matthews and to the community. He said the Matthews community had been good to him and to Family Dollar.

Iris DeVore thanked everyone for coming out for the dedication. She said to expect a miracle and this center is the miracle. She said she had never felt so humble and blessed. “God is so good - so very good,” she said, and then quoted Proverbs 16 - “Commit your plans to the Lord.” She also encouraged everyone in attendance to live now, age later, and celebrate life.

Architect Troy Luttman, Builder Everitt Curlee and Edie Bryant, onsite Supervisor and Art Droste onsite Superintendent were recognized. Special thanks went to Carriage Club of Charlotte, Harris Teeter and Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley for refreshments, and to the Plantation Swingers for entertainment.

In closing, Mayor Myers encouraged attendees to make good use of the building. He said to fill the building in order to pay the mortgage. He thanked Jerry McGuire and Bank of Granite and every person in the Happy Times Banquet Hall for their contributions. John Butler from First Baptist Church offered the closing prayer.  

#ThrowbackThursday: December 21, 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. These stories were originally published December 21, 2006 and was written by Janet Denk.

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Back in the day, a young black kid from Matthews had the choice of two high schools to attend - Second Ward or West Charlotte High, both in Charlotte. Harvey Boyd chose the latter for its art department. That choice would pay off, as Boyd became a skilled graphic artist who went on to attend Howard University, then later, travel and lives the good life. When he was 21 years old, “on a whim” Boyd entered a contest sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Out of the seven finalists in the 1964 contest, Boyd’s work was selected to become the Mecklenburg County seal.

The County government is undergoing a logo redesign for branding purposes, but folks making the final decisions are intent on preserving the original design because it remains representative of the County nearly 50 years later.

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.