Touching Art: A Sensory Art Show at McDowell Arts Center

When my daughter and I walked into the Sensory Art Show at McDowell Arts Center (123 E. McDowell St.), I still had to ask, “It’s okay to touch everything?” Melissa Johnson, Cultural Recreation Manager for the Town of Matthews, nodded and cheerfully said, “Yep.”

That’s exactly what we did: touched each piece, enjoyed the colors and textures, the variety of methods of art making covered in the exhibit. From metal sculpture to heavily textured abstracts, the show was also perfect for kids. Friendge, Andrea Vail’s interactive community-building project, was an unassuming table in the middle of the room, waiting for viewers to sit down and take part.

With this exhibit, it’s the interaction that sparks the magic of art in this show.

Enjoy some of the photos my daughter and I took, but also go and see it yourself. The Multi-Sensory Art Show is on display through July 5. Hours are typically Monday-Friday: 1 pm-8 pm, Saturday: 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday: 1pm-6pm, but call to double check first: 704-847-9746.

2810[high]5: Book Clubs

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The Pocket Size Book Club: I know you’ve probably already decided you don’t have time to join a book club. You’ve probably decided you don’t even have time to finish reading this article. But before you go, you should know that the Matthews Library hosts a book club specifically for those who are short on time. The Pocket Size Book Club meets monthly and discusses books that are 300 pages or less. For July, they will be reading Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas, a story about a friendship between a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid in Colombia during the reign of the violent drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

230 Matthews Station St, Matthews, NC 28105

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Carolina Beer Temple Book Club: If you’ve ever hung out in downtown Matthews on a Tuesday evening, you probably know about the Carolina Beer Temple’s Tuesday Run Club. But did you know that once a month they also host a book club after the run? In case you’re more into reading than running, don’t worry, you don’t need to run to participate in the book discussion and the books will not be about running. For July, the club will be discussing the book Be Free or Die: The Amazing Store of Robert Smalls Escape from Slavery to Union Hero by Cate Lineberry.

Date: Tuesday, July 30, 2019 8:00 pm-9:00 pm

131 Matthews Station St #1C, Matthews, NC 28105

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Books on Tap: Matthews 20s & 30s Book Club: The Carolina Beer Temple is not the only place you can enjoy an adult beverage while discussing great reads. The Matthews Library hosts a monthly book club at Seaboard Taproom and Wine Bar specifically for the 20s and 30s crowd. In July, they will be reading (one of my personal favorites!) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, the novel is about the connecting paths of a blind French girl and a German boy during World War II.

Date: Thursday, July 11, 2019 -7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

213 N Trade St, Matthews, NC 28105

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Far Horizons Non-Fiction Book Club: If you’re more reading about real life, considering joining the Far Horizons Non-Fiction Book Club at the library. July’s book will be Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, by Jose Vargas. In his memoir, Vargas poignantly discusses his experience as an undocumented immigrant in the United States and the emotional complexities of trying to “pass” as an American and living in a country for most of your life but still not feeling as if you can call it home.

Date: Monday, July 8, 2019, 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St, Matthews, NC 28105

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Teen: Are you worried your teenager’s brains are beginning to melt over the summer? Encourage them to join the Teen Book Club at the library. Rather than focusing on one particular book, they select a different genre to discuss each month. For July, the focus will be Science Fiction books.

Date: Monday, July 15, 2019, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St, Matthews, NC 28105


Are none of these book clubs your particular choice of genre? Did you know the Charlotte Mecklenburg library actually offers Book Club Kits to help you begin your own book discussion with friends, families, or even strangers? Each kit includes 10 copies of a book, biographical notes on the author, and sample discussion questions, and tips on how to host a successful book club.  Materials can be kept for up to six weeks, and you can learn more and see what book club kits are available by visiting the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library website.

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2810[high]5: Free (or Nearly Free) Fun

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Fountain Rock Park: This passive park is between the Trade St. and Country Place entrances to the greenway. Tucked off to the side, it’s the perfect spot to take the kids when they’re tired of being inside. Who knew a giant rock and splattering water could fuel the imagination? It’s a Matthews mom’s (or dad’s) miracle!

Near the entrance to 4-Mile Creek Greenway at Trade (311 S. Trade St.)

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Visiting the cats at PetSmart: All of the pet fun, none of the litter scooping. We go to PetSmart for essentials, but always stay an extra long time looking at the cats up for adoption. If there’s a volunteer on site, you can even get a few kitty snuggles in.

11210 Brigman Rd, Matthews, NC 28105

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Windsor Park: Go for the zip line, stay for the many opportunities to explore nature. The trees keep things cool, and this park gets bonus points for having a recycling bin at the picnic tables.

10140 Northeast Pkwy (Photos by the author)

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Matthews Library: Always a favorite because free, but also the summer programs look extra fun. This week Discovery Place has programs for all ages. Check the schedule to see what else is going on.

230 Matthews Station St. (Photos from the Library’s website)

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Live Music: This is where the “cheap” comes into play. Live music is easy to find if you’re going to a restaurant. But not buying food? Kinda feels a little weird. A lot of people go to Food Truck Friday just for the music. Why not get a slice of cake and enjoy the music at the Loyalist? This Saturday is a bluegrass band. Grace O’Malley’s hosts a Sunday Session, and the Farmers’ Market has live music as well.

(Top image by South Branch Bluegrass Band, bottom is author’s own)


Morning Minute: Friday, June 14, 2019

News About Town: Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon and Commissioner Barbara Dement participated in the most recent Facebook Live event with commissioners. The commissioners briefly touched on the new City Arcade business going into the old Hooters location, assuring the police department would ensure a safe environment. They also touched on the tree loss at the Taft development, as well as advisory board opportunities. Watch on Facebook if you’d like to catch up.

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News Around Town: If you’ve driven down Independence at Matthews Festival shopping center lately, you’ll notice the buildings in front of the old movie theater have been torn down. Because of the 51-widening, the Texas Roadhouse will be too close to the future bridge site (it will shift a few feet). The restaurant is relocating to the opposite side of the parking lot. At the most recent council meeting, the council approved elevations for Bonefish Grill, which will move to the area that is currently the Roadhouse parking lot.

One Good Thing: On August 7, Novant Hospital is holding a Mental Health First Aid (Adult) class (they also host classes for first aid for children). It seems like a long way in the future to plan for August, but these classes fill up fast. You’ll learn to know risk factors and warning signs of mental illness, a 5 step action plan to help someone who is showing signs of a mental health problem or crisis, and how to connect with that person and find appropriate support for them. After the class is complete, you’ll receive certification and the ability to create a profile on the Mental First Aider portal.

2810[high]5: Places to Level Up Your Inner Nerd


A. Pennyworth’s Comics: Just like Alfred Pennyworth is a stable presence in the life of Bruce Wayne, so has A. Pennyworth’s Comics, News, and Collectibles been to Matthews. Celebrating their 20-year anniversary in September, A. Pennyworth’s offers new and old comics and collectibles from your favorite tv show, movie, and (of course!)comic book. Whether you’re Team Batman, Team Superman, or Team Not Sure Who to Root For, your Inner Nerd will enjoy questing through the racks of comics, graphic novels, and other pop culture items inside the shop.

11025 Monroe Road, Ste. D Matthews, North Carolina 28105

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AMF Carolina Lanes: Does thinking of the bowling alley conjure up more of your Inner

Dude than your Inner Nerd? At AMF in Matthews, you don’t need to worry whether or not

your mystery block lands on your Big Lebowski or your Big Daddy- both can have a

great time. In addition to bowling, Matthews’ favorite bowling alley also includes an

extensive arcade with both new and classic video games for your Inner Nerd to dedicate

some time to leveling up.

11210 Brigman Rd, Matthews, NC 28105


Temple Mojo: Is your Inner Nerd more the drinking and knowing things type? TempleMojo frequently hosts themed trivia nights where you can prove both of those skills. Past themes have included The Avengers, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. Plus, Temple Mojo has 26 beers on tap, so whether you fancy yourself a Lannister, a Stark, a Dothraki, or a Wildling, they have plenty of choices to fill up your cup.

195 N Trade St, Matthews, NC 28105

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Charlotte Academy of Music: It may be too late to invest in a magic wand and send your own Inner Nerd off to Hogwarts, but for one magical, spellbinding week this summer, your child can experience the wizarding world of Harry Potter at the CharlotteAcademy of Music’s Harry Potter summer camp. They will start their week off meetingHogwarts famous sorting hat and learn once and for all whether they really are a Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw. Once placed into their individual houses, campers will spend their time creating Harry Potter inspired art. Camp will end with an exhibition for family and friends and the announcing of the winner of the House Cup. Two sessions of camp are still available!

15040 Idlewild Rd Suite C, Matthews, NC 28104


NerdsToGo: Is your inner nerd still a technology newb? That’s okay, NerdsToGo has you covered. If you find your inner (or outer) nerd is facing a technology monster that’s above their player level, contact NerdsToGo. With their home office located in Matthews, NerdsToGo will travel to you and offers maintenance and repair services for your computer or smart device.

3521 Matthews-Mint Hill Rd, Matthews, NC 28105

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Morning Minute: Monday, June 10, 2019

News About Town: As Matthews comes to terms with the imminent elimination of the Idlewild/51 roundabout, questions remain both about the short lifespan of the roundabout and the future of the gateway sign planned for that location. NCDOT designed the roundabout for a 10-year design period, at which time they assumed the roundabout would work with a widened 51. Now that the engineering is underway, NCDOT anticipates the car capacity will exceed that of the roundabout. Since 2017, Matthews and Mint Hill have been working collaboratively toward a gateway sign for the roundabout. The sign (design and construction) was estimated at $67,000 (with landscaping the total combined cost for both towns totaled close to $100,000) and has been approved by NCDOT for installation. Now, with the impending widening, the sign would only stand for six to seven years. At the May 28 council meeting, the Board instructed town engineers to redesign the area with a less expensive sign in a way that is more focused on landscaping.


News Around Town: Get out your binoculars to see Jupiter's four largest moons. While relatively easy to see throughout June, tonight is the night to really get a glimpse. That is, if the clouds can clear for the night. If not, NASA has your back. Download the Eyes on the Solar System app for an up-close look at Jupiter that feels like you're on the Juno spacecraft.

One Fun Thing: This Saturday, get a head start on your National Pollinator Week (June 17 – 23, 2019) celebrations at the Matthews Farmers' Market. The Matthews chapter of Bee City USA will be at the market with their honey bee observation hive. Apiculturists will be there, totally ready to share their knowledge and spread the pollinator love. June 1, 8 am-noon, Matthews Farmers' Market, 188 N Trade St.

2810[high]5: Flowers to Forage

Edible flowers are a delicate way to add variety to your palate, and when they’re in abundance and right outside your door, then why not? Eat them fresh on a salad, or make a simple syrup. This is a basic recipe. I tend to use a full cup of flowers per cup of water.

Some quick etiquette for your foraging expedition: don’t take all of what you find, someone else may forage there, too; make sure it’s not an area that’s sprayed with herbicide; if you’re harvesting from a heavily traveled roadside, make sure you’re 30-feet or more from the road.

As always, make sure you know exactly what you’re harvesting.

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Chive Blossoms: This one is less “foraging” and more scouring the garden for what’s in bloom. While the other flowers on this list lend a sweeter flavor profile, chive blossoms provide a savory component to the spectrum of edible flowers. Pour white vinegar over a handful of blossoms for a delicious (fuchsia!) salad vinegar, add to savory crepes, sprinkle on a salad—use chive blossoms for a mild hint of onion.


Dandelion: I know, I know, your HOA wants them gone, the bees want them for pollen, and now I’m telling you to eat them. It’s easy to find recipes for this sunny flower—wine, fritters, syrup, and jam. Pickle the buds before they open for a locavore take on capers.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Elderflowers: The large umbels are cheering up roadside ditches everywhere right now. You may have tried the flavor while drinking a St. Germain-based cocktail or in a hot tea. The flowers are considered medicinal by many, and similar in use to the elderberry. Can’t find the time to forage? These you can find dried at the Matthews Farmers’ Market!

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Honeysuckle: Invasive honeysuckle is an easy one to identify. Dry some in a dehydrator (or in an oven on the lowest setting with the oven door open) for a tasty tea. One hot cup of honeysuckle tea is a throat-soothing reminder of summer in the dead of winter. Or make a refreshing syrup for homemade sodas and popsicles!

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Linden: Blossoms on the linden trees are just starting to appear. As with all flowers, syrup is a popular go-to. Linden (or tilia) is also popular as an evening tea; sit down with a cup when you’re ready to wind down for the day. Another common recipe is to preserve the flowers in honey for a pancake topping. Use the syrup in place of gin for a mocktail twist on the classic gin and tonic.


Morning Minute: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

News About Town: The Town of Matthews is encouraging residents to Know Your No’s in the recycling bin. As more and more recycling is trashed due to contamination, it’s important to know what those contaminants are. What are the No’s? No tanglers (such as wires, hoses, etc.), no scrap metal, no plastic film (including bags, but some “film” can be recycled with bags at retail recycling locations like Target), no food (try composting?), no hazardous and medical waste (not only is it dangerous, there are actual people handling your recycling along the way), no textiles, no bagged recyclables (because the bags can’t be recycled and it makes more work for the people at the facility).

News Around Town:  During tonight’s regular meeting, the County Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to adopt the amended budget. This budget will determine the county’s property tax rate for Matthews. If approved, the budget will take effect July 1, 2019. If you can’t make it but want to be in the know, the meetings are broadcast online. Meetings are held at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E 4th St, Charlotte, 28202.

One Fun Thing:  This Saturday, June 8 join Good Cup Coffee for the Father's Day pop-up at the Loyalist. Make a mixed 6-pack of beers from the cooler inside, then head outdoors for some locally-sourced handmade wares! Shop from 6 till 9 PM in the courtyard beside the market. Then go check out the car show in our parking lot with a cold coffee drink!

Morning Minute: Monday, June 3, 2019

News About Town: Matthews Police are looking for two men who recently stole nearly $900 in merchandise from Lowe's at Sycamore Commons. Both men are described as black males, approximately 6’00” tall, with medium to large builds. Security camera photos are available on the town website. The theft occurred on the heels of a recent cooperative sting between Matthews PD and Lowe's Security, where 14 people were charged and 21 cases were closed by netting members of an organized retail theft ring.  

The nearly finished Town 324 apartments.

The nearly finished Town 324 apartments.

News Around Town:  Town 324, developed by BrookChase Properties, is nearing completion, expanding the selection of apartments in downtown Matthews (the other downtown rental multifamily units are BrookChase's Matthews Lofts). Town 324 is located by Town Hall and consists of 24 " boutique, small scale apartment" units. Rezoning was approved in 2014 by current Commissioner John Urban. (Urban was not commissioner at the time of rezoning.)

One Fun Thing:  Spend summer break with the Matthews Library. Sign your family up online for the Summer Break read-along, log reading and activities throughout the summer, then earn badges and prizes (including a ticket to Carowinds!).

Morning Minute: Friday, May 31, 2019

News About Town: Have a burning question for Mayor Bailey? Maybe curious about the details of a development in town? Tomorrow (Saturday, June 1) is your chance to Meet the Mayor at Miki’s Restaurant (1819 Matthews Township Pkwy) from 8 to 9 am.

Bonus Bite: The Council hasn’t solidified the FY 19/20 budget yet. They’ll meet again with the Town Manager and staff this Monday (June 3) for the special budget meeting. Want to sit in? It’s an open meeting and will be at Town Hall from 6:00  to 8:00 pm.


News Around Town: This Saturday at 10:00 am, the Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity will dedicate their latest Sandy Marano Memorial Home build (3519 Dion Dr, Matthews, NC 28105). Friends, families, and volunteers are invited to join the celebration as the family is welcomed to their new home.   

One Fun Thing:  This June the McDowell Arts Center will be transformed into a sensory arts show. Ten regional artists will have work on display and you can expect more than just looking, all of the art was made to be touched. Goodyear artist Andrea Vail will have her collaborative, community-building art piece ready. Stop by, materials will be in the gallery for you to add to the piece. McDowell Arts Center (located by the Community Center) is open Monday through Saturday and the show will run through July 5. A reception will be held June 9, and we’ll have more details closer to that date.

Morning Minute: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

News About Town: On Tuesday evening the town council discussed with Town Attorney Charles Buckley (yep, that street is named after him) prayer in council meetings. The discussion was largely based on the Fourth Circuit court decision that prayer by the Rowan County council violated the Constitution. Similarities between Matthews and Rowan councils include council members leading prayer, prayers that proselytize, and the invitation by council members to attendees to pray. To comply, the attorney recommended the board invite clergy or residents to pray or to do as the Town of Waxhaw does and to offer a moment of silence. The Board of Commissioners will give thought to the topic moving forward. 

If you haven’t made it to a Mobility meeting, there are still a few chances!

If you haven’t made it to a Mobility meeting, there are still a few chances!

News Around Town: Two buildings that have been vacant for a while on Independence have a new lease on life. The former Hooters building (9201 E Independence Blvd) will soon be City Arcade, a sweepstakes center. A space in Windsor Square (right at the corner of Sam Newell and Independence) has a sign in the window that says a homebrew supply store is coming soon. This will be a big relief for those who drive to 201 Central in Wesley Chapel or Alternative Beverage in Belmont to get their brew on. 

One Good Thing: A few mountain towns in NC are celebrating Trail Days tomorrow through Sunday (May 31 through June 2). Why not join from a distance and visit the trails around Matthews? PurSey Park has an excellent loop for hiking and biking, portions of the Carolina Thread Trail run through town and include our last but not least--the beloved 4-mile Creek Greenway. In the words of Dr. Scott, the great PBS paleontologist, "Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries."

Morning Minute: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

News About Town: On Memorial Day the American Legion unveiled a new sculpture purchased by the Town in Stumptown Park. "Remembrance," by Peter Rubino, was initially commissioned to honor Americas Fallen Heroes in association with the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation. Several versions have been created since then, the newest of which now resides near the flag pole at Stumptown. 


News Around Town: This Saturday stop by the Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St., for North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversation, a talk by NC-based photographer Daniel Coston. Daniel has built a career by photographing bands and musicians throughout the state, from Doc Watson to the Avett Brothers. Learn about his process and the stories behind his work. See some of the images he's taken around Matthews, too! 

One Good Thing: As the school year winds down, take a quick inventory of your marker stash. If you have any that no longer work, Crayola will recycle them. Many area schools will take your used markers and send them to be recycled, but if you can't get to a drop-off point, let us know. We'll meet you somewhere and take them off your hands then get them to Crayola. Because Crayola is committed to recycling, the markers can be any brand, not just theirs! 

2810[high]5: A dog-gone good time

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A Barking Boutique: Looking to pamper your pooch? Treat them to a spa day at the Barking Boutique where they offer services ranging from a full groom, mini groom, or nail trim. Once Fido is clean and beautiful, treat them to a delicious snack from the “Barkery Buffet”, with doggie-safe, human-grade decorated treats.


Bruster’s Ice Cream: We all know the dog days of summer are coming, and our 4-legged friends deserve a break from the heat as well. Bring Fido by Bruster’s Ice Cream for a free doggie sundae, complete with a dog treat on top.

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Neighborhood Feed and Tack: Don’t let the name fool you, Neighborhood Feed and Tack is for more than just your barnyard companion. They offer popular and healthy pet food and supplies for your dog, cat, or rabbit. Prefer the company of a more exotic animal? Neighborhood Feed and Tack can order specialty food for your elephant or earth worm.


Seaboard: With ample outdoor space, you and your well-behaved pupper are always welcome on the massive patio at Seaboard. Ask for a refreshing bowl of water, and you and man’s best friend can both enjoy a cold one.


VeloPops: Matthew’s newest dessert locale also offers a delicious frozen snack for your puppy pal: PupPops! Made with a rawhide stick, dogs can enjoy their PupPop from end to end.

Morning Minute: Tuesday, May 28, 2019

News About Town: We’ve been talking a lot about the town budget lately. Tonight is your chance to give the Board of Commissioners input. No need to sign up to speak, the public hearing is built into the Board of Commissioners meeting.

If you're interested in a comparison of numbers from the 2019/20 budget, view that here.  To hear the budget discussion between the Board and Town Manager, click here.

Changes include:
Governing Board has a recommended additional $25,000 for legal fees. The total suggested increase is $26,605.

Town Manager suggested increase is $37,963.

Human Resources includes overall suggested increase of $128,582.‬

IT and Finance Departments both are recommended to receive lower amounts this budget from the last (-$81,387 and -$14,254 respectively).

Safety/Risk Management has a recommended budget increase of $54,802, mostly due to an increase in Worker’s Comp Premiums and a slight increase for full-time wages.

Police Office of the Chief has a recommended budget increase by $91,504 (increasing full-time and overtime wages as well as retirement contributions). Last year the Police Patrol Division had a budget of $3,301,834 ; this year the recommended budget is $3,350,302. Police Criminal Investigations received $1,075,485  last year. The FY 19/20 recommendation is $1,143,888.

The Fire Department has a recommended increase of $329,171, largely due to an increase in salary and benefit line items as they transition to a full-time department from volunteer.

Cultural Arts, Special Events, Rec Centers, Landscape, and Sanitation have recommended higher budgets. Police Admin and Telecommunications, Streets and Sidewalks, and Planning have a lower recommended budget than FY 18/19.


One Fun Thing: Reader Sandy Wilkinson has the goods on what’s going on at McDowell Arts Center. From Sandy, “Only one more week to enjoy the art show at the McDowell Art Gallery featuring works done by Matthews Artists Guild and Crown Point Elementary school art students. If you've never been to McDowell, stop by the art show upstairs and the working area downstairs to see work in progress. Many youngsters are signing up for art camp this summer. Veterans are welcome to create art weekly. Those who enjoy knitting and crocheting meet every other Tuesday evening, open to everyone. Many other programs and information are available at the Mathews Community Center. Don’t be shy...give it a try!”

Morning Minute: Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend News: Hooks-Orr American Legion Post #235 will have a display of war memorabilia in the Hood Room of Town Hall (232 Matthews Station St.) both today and tomorrow (May 24 and 25, 11 am to 2 pm). Items from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and the Korean wars will provide a sobering reflection as we kick off Memorial Day weekend.

In honor of those who died in service, all Matthews Veterans are welcome to join the Legion for a free breakfast on Saturday, May 25 at the Masonic Lodge (184 S Trade St ) from 8 am to 10 am.

Legion Post 235 will also hold their Annual Matthews Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 27 at 11:00am. Join the Legion at Stumptown Park to honor Matthews' service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and to watch the unveiling of a new sculpture honoring all Matthews veterans.

In other Memorial Day news, Matthews Talks will honor soldiers who died in war. Check out the site Monday morning to see a special video memorializing five fallen soldiers who had ties to Matthews.

At 3 pm on Monday, take one minute to observe the National Moment of Remembrance. This moment was established by Congress as an act of national unity every Memorial Day.

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One Good Thing: It’s no secret we love us some Grace O’Malley’s (helloooo fish and chips rinsed down with a pint of Guinness). It seems lots of other people do, too, leaving the Irish restaurant understaffed for dinner. If you’re a rock star line cook looking for evening shifts, this is your chance. The position is full time and they offer very competitive wages. Is this job for you? Brush up on your brogue and apply.