Local Government

Chief Clark Pennington: Year One Leading the Matthews Police

Clark A. Pennington began his job on January 2, 2018 as the new Chief of the Matthews Police Department, replacing retired Chief Rob Hunter. Born in Delaware and raised in Las Vegas, Chief Pennington was taught the “Do unto others” doctrine early in his childhood. That philosophy continues guide his decision-making and doctrine of leadership.

During his previous 25 years of law enforcement service - 20 years of which included rising through the ranks at the Frederick, MD police department -  Pennington graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, with a degree in Criminal Justice (2010) and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Management from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD (2012). Pennington was also an adjunct Criminal Justice Professor at Hood College, Frederick Community College, and Mount Saint Mary’s University.

He recently reflected back on his first year of service in Matthews:

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You have such an outstanding and lengthy history both with the military and with public service?  Has this always been a love and a passion?

I have always been drawn to public service and a profession in law enforcement.  I am the fourth generation in my family who has served in some form of the profession.  My great grandfather, grandfather, and father all served as constables in Pennsylvania.

From very early on, I recognized I liked being the one that people turned to for help.  Probably because I enjoyed providing some service to those that were struggling or felt victimized.  I do not like to see others being taken advantage of and want to do my part to help where I can.

When I graduated from high school, I did not feel college was right for me at that time.  I also knew that staying in Vegas and working until I was 21 years old and eligible for a career in law enforcement, was not productive or the best choice.  I joined the US Army to gain additional life experience and show a commitment to something bigger than me. I knew early on through examples set for me by family and friends in the profession that sacrifice and commitment was something that is expected in my chosen career path.  

In 1998, I was hired by the Frederick Police Department in Frederick, MD.  Over the next 20 years, I was extremely blessed to have competent and qualified leaders above me.  Many of those leaders pushed me further than I ever expected to go.

You state that your promotion and employment as Police Chief of Matthews is the culmination of your career. Can you say more about this?

I have always wanted to serve and learn from those in leadership positions.  In my 26+ years in the law enforcement profession, I have been fortunate enough to serve under some very capable and confident men and women.  I learned early on that we are able to take something away from each person we are afforded the opportunity to work with.

Being appointed as the Chief is a culmination of a career where I have learned from successful encounters and some not so successful.  The opportunity to serve as Chief came at a point…that I felt I could apply those important lessons learned to help develop other leaders and enrich the lives of individuals to help build a better organization and create a caring environment.

What hopes did you have for the job?

My hopes for the job are that I can be productive as the Chief and help to maintain, and even grow (to) incorporate technology to enhance the services provided to our residents, visitors, and business owners.  I hope to continue building an organization of leaders who have a service heart, ensuring our agency is serving and working with businesses, residents, and nonprofit organizations to enhance our community both financially and in areas of improving our quality of life.  

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Matthews is a very progressive community and places high demands on its police department. Learning the expectations of the residents and businesses is important to ensure we are meeting those and enhancing the quality of life

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

I don’t think the challenges in Matthews are unique to Matthews.  Crime reduction and reducing the fear of crime is always at the forefront of a chief’s desires…Any time a new leader steps into an agency he/she is challenged with learning the culture of the agency and community you are entering.  Matthews is a very progressive community and places high demands on its police department. Learning the expectations of the residents and businesses is important to ensure we are meeting those and enhancing the quality of life. Any changes made in the agency must enhance the services provided without the reducing services expected or letting the community down on their expectations is important.

What are some of your accomplishments so far?

Met one on one with each and every employee of the agency; undertook a reorganization and distribution of workload among division commanders; began a comprehensive review of all policies and assigning each policy to a division commander for review and updating.  (We reviewed and/or made changes to our Use of Force Policy, Internal Affairs Policy, and Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Policy.) Conducted a 100% inventory and accountability review of evidence and seized property accounting for all items seized or taken into custody by the agency. Opened lines of communication between divisions and incorporated crime analysis into our deployment strategies, allowing us to target areas of the town that are experiencing the highest impact of crime or quality of life issues. Entered into a partnership with Carmel Christian School to hire and train a School Resource Officer; promoted two new sergeants. Began a more transparent use of social media to communicate with our public on crime issues, and arrests.

What are some of your shorter and longer goals?

One short-term goal is to train each member of the agency on Problem Oriented Policing and Intelligence led policing strategies.  The ultimate goal is to use each and every employee as a mini crime-analyst and use problem-solving strategies to provide long term solutions to identified community issues.  

What else would you like people to know about you?

In my off time I enjoy spending time with my three sons (Ethan, who is 16, and twins, Brady and Collin, who are 13).  We like to hunt, fish, boat and travel. I enjoy riding my motorcycle and clearing my head on a long ride.

Matthews has undergone some rapid changes in recent years and there will be many more in the years to come.  In light of this, how do you see your role?

I think instituting community and problem-solving policing and intelligence-led policing philosophies into the department will enhance the services we already provide and elevate our abilities to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in our community.

What’s in a New Street Name?

This year, the Town of Matthews (in partnership with Mecklenburg County) built one new street – Sports Parkway between Tank Town and Matthews-Mint Hill Roads.

The number of new streets created in previous years are:  2017 – 3; 2016 – 2; 2015 – 2; 2014 – 0. These include Lake Harmony Drive off of Mount Harmony Church Road, Downton Court in the Eden Hall development on Fullwood Lane, and Margaret Ridge Drive in the Stevens Grove subdivision off of Highway 51. The most recently created streets are Talbot Court, Hamlet Court, and Kings Manor Court.

Photo by Renee Garner

Photo by Renee Garner

To create a street and name, developers must propose the names; the Town has code requirements to ensure that new street names are appropriate and not duplicated. Mecklenburg County ultimately approves the name and assigns the individual street addresses.

The Planning Department reviews street names when new subdivisions/developments are in plan review. The Zoning Administrator, Mary Jo Gollnitz, considers the proposed street names for the Town, as do Matthews Planning Department, Public Works, Police Department, and Fire & EMS Department before the name is submitted to Mecklenburg County for final approval. 

According to code, proper street names must consist of one to three words, plus a street type suffix. The name must not duplicate or too closely approximate phonetically the name of any other street within the Town or county. Street names cannot include a business name, punctuation, possibly offensive words, or directional suffixes. 

The first word of a street name can only be used in two other locations within the county. The only exception to this is the use of a generic label naming a topographic feature or a color.

According to the National League of Cities, the five top street names in the country are Second, Third, First, Fourth, and Park.

According to the US Census Bureau’s US Tiger/Shapefiles, 2014, the most common street name in North Carolina is Dogwood. The top 10 street names in this state are: Dogwood (328), Park (304), Oak (261), Pine (245), Ridge (234), Cedar (225), Maple (225), Sunset (220), Church (204), and 2nd/Second (193).

The naming of streets reflects the era in which it was created – 18th- and 19th-century streets often reflected English (UK) roots or defined the purpose of that road. Later 19th-century developers named streets after trees and flowers; 20th- and 21st-century streets often mirror developers’ family names. Most recently, following the rise in technology and modernization, roads are again reflecting the generic definition of the business located on that street.

Take Me To Your Leaders: Meet the Assistant Town Manager

This post is Part III of a series explaining the roles of our leadership within municipal government. Part I: Meet your commissioners, Part II: Meet your mayor , Part III: Meet the Town Manager

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As explained in previous Take Me To Your Leaders posts, Matthews operates as a municipal government with council-manager leadership. Assistant Town Manager Becky Hawke supports and assists Town Manager Hazen Blodgett on a variety of town administrative tasks such as town-wide planning, special projects, and initiatives. Also serving as a back-up for the Town Manager, Ms. Hawke acts to fill Mr. Blodgett's seat in his absence.

What is the Assistant Town Manager's role? The Assistant Town Manager is part of the senior management team for the Town of Matthews. Ms. Hawke provides oversight and establishes standards with department heads of Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Safety/Risk Management, Communications, Fire/EMS, Police, Public Works, Parks and Rec, and Planning. Ms. Hawke also serves as staff liaison to the Town of Matthews Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).

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Who is the Town of Matthews Assistant Town Manager? Becky Hawke has served in local government for more than a decade and has been the assistant town manager for the Town of Matthews since 2016. Ms. Hawke pursued extensive education to prepare her for a role in municipal management. She earned an undergraduate B.A. in Communication Studies (minor in Sociology) from Hollins University, an M.S. in Corporate and Public Communication from Radford University, and a graduate certificate in Human Resources Management from Cornell University. She is also a graduate of the Public Executive Leadership Academy (PELA) of UNC-Chapel Hill. She retains active membership in several professional organizations including the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the North Carolina City County Managers Association (NCCCMA).

In 2018 Ms. Hawke was recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in the greater Mecklenburg County region by the Mecklenburg Times and one of the 25 Most Powerful Women by the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly.

Ms. Hawke further serves the community as the Vice-President (2019 President-elect) of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce. She also sits on the boards of the Matthews HELP Center and Red Brick Partnership, is a member of the Matthews Rotary Club, and is a volunteer with dog rescue groups.

At home Ms. Hawke has a menagerie of pets, all of which are rescues. Among them are Titan (the blind 200-pond mastiff), Tank (a ridiculously-rotten English Bulldog), and four cats (Jenna, Ninja Cat, Geronimo, and Houdini).

According to Ms. Hawke, “Geronimo earned his name and gained local notoriety in Southwest Virginia in 2008 when, as a tiny stray kitten, he survived jumping off an eight-story tall bridge and landing in the parking lot below. I was working for the city where it happened and was able to adopt him prior to the ensuing media coverage. He isn't, perhaps, the sharpest cat but is otherwise perfectly healthy.”



Bloodhounds, the Real Life Paw Patrol

Last week law enforcement officers from all over the country convened in Matthews to train and certify their bloodhounds with the National Police Bloodhound Association. More than 45 law enforcement officers traveled across the country, some by plane, to Matthews to attend this five-day seminar. Instructors created scent trails for the dogs to follow, provided feedback to fine-tune the dogs’ tracking abilities, and advised handlers on best practices.
If you didn’t see these incredibly hard-working dogs while they were training in town, Matthews Police Officer Kevin Osuch will have his dogs (one of which is a tracking bloodhound) at Pawsitively Matthews this Saturday, November 3, in Stumptown Park.

Since 1962, the National Police Bloodhound Association has been a trusted source for information relative to the use of the purebred bloodhound in the field of law enforcement.  The National Police Bloodhound Association (NPBA) teaches basic standards that have been tried and proven from many years of trails by law enforcement officers from all over the country that were found to be sound in the utilization of the man-trailing bloodhound.

Never has any officer member of the National Police Bloodhound Association been proven wrong when challenged in his or her use of the bloodhound in law enforcement by the courts by following the standards that have been set by the National Police Bloodhound Association.
— NPBA Website

Red Brick Partnership Under Scrutiny by Matthews Residents

Updated 10/9/2018 with corrections

Red Brick Partnership (RBP), a coalition of downtown Matthews businesses, was formed in 2015 by the Town of Matthews and its Economic Development Advisory Committee, and is currently co-chaired by John Urban* (Matthews Commissioner, owner of Urban Architectural Group) and Rob Jacik (owner, Carolina Beer Temple, Temple Mojo, and Seaboard). RBP’s stated mission has been to “promote the awareness of Downtown Matthews, the businesses and citizens that comprise the downtown area as a destination for residents and tourists.” There is presently no public list of Red Brick Partnership members.

Photo by Norah Burke

Photo by Norah Burke

The initial funding for Red Brick Partnership included donations from private businesses and a grant of $20,000 from the Town of Matthews, which was approved by the Town Commission, headed by then mayor Jim Taylor, and including current commissioners Chris Melton, John Higdon, Kress Query, and Jeff Miller. Town Staff provided information regarding actual town expenditures during this period.

In its first year of existence (2014/15), RBP received $10,600 in external donations and/or revenue, submitted directly to the Town of Matthews. With $12,515 in expenditures, the Town used $1,915 of the $20,000 approved by council to cover the difference. In its second year RBP received $7,925 in donations/revenue, and with $17,732 in expenditures the Town covered $9,807 of that amount. The RBP was administered as a town entity from its creation in fiscal year 2014/2015 until it incorporated during fiscal year 2016/2017. During this period Town staff managed and approved all funds going into and out of RBP.

Red Brick Partnership filed as a separate entity in 2016, prior to the separation they received $250 in donations. That year there were $20,040 in expenditures, including $18,393.10 provided directly to Red Brick post incorporation. The Town covered $19,790 in expenditures for fiscal year 2016/17. In RBP’s first full year as an independent organization (2017/18) the town provided $20,000. Total investment of town tax dollars has been $50,115 thus far, with RBP managing $38,393.10 without oversight from Town staff.In July 2018, the Board of Commissioners approved an additional contribution to RBP of $20,000 to be disbursed later this year.

The Town does not have a process to determine whether donations to RBP have resulted in a positive return on investment – through higher spending at local establishments or an increase in visitors to downtown businesses. The town has relied instead on the Town Council representative on the RBP board – currently Mr. Urban – and the representative from town staff – currently Assistant Town Manager Becky Hawke – to ensure town funds are being used appropriately.

Matthews’ continued investment of money and personnel has been provided with the assumption that RBP is a nonprofit organization. RBP’s domain extension (.org), further contributed to the presumption of nonprofit status. However, research performed by Matthews resident Gordon Clemmons uncovered that Red Brick Partnership filed for incorporation with the NC Secretary of State but never applied for nonprofit status with the IRS. As such, RBP has yet to file a 990, if annual donations and in-kind contributions exceeded $50,000 or a 990-N for nonprofits with less income. It is unclear if RBP has filed annual taxes as a business with income.

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At the Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, Mr. Urban addressed concerns. He maintains that the missed IRS filing was a simple error and was brought to his attention a few months ago. The organization is working to complete their nonprofit filing now. Mayor Paul Bailey expressed support of Mr. Urban and stated the funds approved in 2018 would be disbursed to the organization as soon as they have their paperwork in order.

Mr. Clemmons spoke during the public comment period. He brought up concerns about mismanagement of taxpayer money, potential conflicts of interest, and whether the organization is necessary given the existence of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Advisory Committee. He called for the return of funds given to RBP by the town, for an independent investigation of RBP’s finances, and for Mr. Urban’s resignation.

Mr. Urban did not respond to Mr. Clemmons public comment directly.

*Urban’s own documents and Facebook page denote himself as co-founder of RBP.

Conversations with: Mark Tofano

One of our goals at the Beacon is to highlight our many talented and interesting neighbors. We do this through The People of Matthews series, spotlights on town leaders, and the Conversations With series. Previous spotlights include Chris Sottile of The Loyalist and David Johnson of Silent Images. Future pieces include former Matthews Police Chief Rob Hunter and beekeeper Martha Krauss.

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Mark Tofano is a Matthews resident who purchased his 259 South Trade Street home in 2012 and began renovations on it in early 2013. In 2011, Brookchase Properties (owner Garry Smith) purchased 2.36 acres next door (269 Trade Street) intending to construct a high-density residential neighborhood. He offered the previous homeowner money to purchase her property and add it to the intended complex.  It is Mark’s contention that the property is a “cornerstone” which not only defines the entrance to the Four-Mile Creek Greenway, but is one of the first things that visitors see when entering the town (and is not in keeping with the remaining six nearby homes.)

Around August 10, 2018, a sign appeared on the BrookeChase property announcing a request to rezone the property from R20 to RVS on August 13, 2018. With an R20 zoning 3 homes may be built on the property. RVS zoning would allow five homes to be built facing South Trade St. and eight more homes to be constructed at the rear of that property. That plan also calls for the demolition of 60% of the nearby Green Wall, a tall, plant-lined path that lines the greenway entrance at Trade Street. In later August, Mark took out a two-page ad in a local newspaper, intending to draw more attention to this issue. Although Mark and Garry Smith had originally been engaged in dialogue to find a compromise, and Mark has talked with other town officials, the rezoning is moving forward. The project will be up for a vote during the October 8, 2018 Town Commissioner’s meeting.

Mark Tofano lives in a Matthews Heritage house, built in 1942 for the Burton family.

Mark Tofano lives in a Matthews Heritage house, built in 1942 for the Burton family.

Mark’s “other life” has brought enormous success. After leaving the Air Force (after five years of service), Mark became an electronic engineer in the Cape Canaveral area assigned to the manned space program, missile defense systems and manned bombers.  He also lived in Europe and spent nearly four years working on satellite communication systems. After his mother’s passing, he returned to south Florida working in sales for various companies including Olivetti and National Cash Register. He subsequently founded and funded software and electronic hardware companies, which were later (in part) sold to Apple Computer and other national/regional companies.  Of late, he has been a contract consultant providing business analysis and project development expertise for TIAA, Coca-Cola, Duke Energy, and Wells Fargo.

Tofano subsequently founded and funded software and electronic hardware companies, which were later (in part) sold to Apple Computer and other national/regional companies.

For the past 20 years, he has volunteered with Men of Acts, an outreach program sponsored by the Central Church of God which assists the elderly, disabled, single mothers and widows by providing minor home repair services; he is a member of the Opera Carolina chorus and also provides free piano lessons to underprivileged children as well as procuring pianos for those that cannot afford them.

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When I drove into Matthews to view the home, I simply fell in love with the town, especially the historic district, which I call “The Village.”

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Why did you choose to move here? I was looking for a home to purchase and my daughter found 259 South Trade Street online.  When I drove into Matthews to view the home, I simply fell in love with the town, especially the historic district, which I call “The Village.”

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When I began to walk up the driveway to meet the previous owner Ms. (Suzie) Burton, a peace came over me.  At that moment I knew that this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Ms. Burton was so afraid that I was going to purchase the home and then tear it down to build a newer home.   I wrote Suzie a letter promising not to tear it down, but instead, to keep the exterior of the home as she always remembered it. I have kept that promise and will continue to do so, even though Suzie has passed away.

What were your hopes for living here? Simply to beautify the home and the property, making it an asset to the Town of Matthews.  My home was one of only seven homes left on Trade Street from the Greenway entrance to Sam Newell Road.  Now it is only one of six homes. (Last year, one of the houses was demolished on the neighboring property).

It appears as if people now know you through some media coverage and by your presence at town meetings regarding the land-use questions.  Why does this issue touch you? The entrance to the Historic District of the Town of Matthews begins at the Greenway entrance.  When pedestrians and motorists pass this point, they know that they are entering someplace special. And when they leave through this demarcation point, they feel the loss of leaving something precious behind.

What intentions do you have for this movement?  During the process of opposing the rezoning of 269 South Trade Street, it became apparent that there are many practices of the town government that could be improved and others that could be added or removed.  The most glaring deficiency (in my opinion…) is that there is a lack of real transparency in our town governance. In the age of electronic communication, there should be live broadcasts of every council meeting, live feeds of meetings via YouTube, Facebook or the like as well as a robust means of communicating to the public what is happening in government, and where and when it is happening other than through the town website or emails.  

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Have you ever been involved in town-related issues, before? This is my first foray into the matters of local government.  Like so many people that I have spoken with that are involved in local government, they made their entry because of issues that occurred within Matthews that they found to be unsatisfactory or unsettling.  In fact, in speaking individually with each of the commissioners, I have found that some of them entered politics for this very reason. I have never considered myself an activist as the word may be interpreted today.  Perhaps, years ago, in my youth, I would have managed myself more in this manner, but as the years have passed and maturity, wisdom, and experience have taken hold, I have found that a more effective means is through dialogue, understanding and appreciating an opposing opinion and then attempting to find a middle ground, a compromise.  

Do you feel that this issue is now your cause or passion, or does it fit into a greater philosophical life plan?  At the moment, waging an opposition to the current site plan for the rezoning of 269 South Trade Street is my cause and it is my consuming passion, as it is the passion of many other fine people that have joined with me in opposing the plan.  Even when this issue is resolved, this passion will be redirected to the many other issues that, in my opinion, plague the Matthews Township government and how it serves the citizens of the town.

I hear you are building a backyard bocce board and constructing a two-car garage nearby with a roof which will be used as a viewing stand for this sport. This is quite a remarkable undertaking! Why have you decided to build this? I am one of the last 100% Italians in the Tofano family line.  I lived in Europe for a number of years and have made frequent trips to (see my relatives in) Italy.  The visual image of families in a community playing Bocce Ball in the village has burned into my memory.  When I purchased my property, I saw the possibilities of actually having a Bocce Ball court on my own land which I have named “Cielo in Terra” - heaven on earth.  This landscaped open court will be much more than a playing field. It will (also) be a place for friends and family to meet, to play, to enjoy life and to enjoy each other.

Tofano has a leveled and compacted area in his backyard prepared for a full-sized bocce ball court.

Tofano has a leveled and compacted area in his backyard prepared for a full-sized bocce ball court.

What do you want people to know about you?  I came from humble beginnings; my parents were children of Italian immigrants and did not graduate from high school.  At the age of five, my parents thought that I might have talent with piano and found an accomplished pianist acquaintance who agreed to teach me for free. This act of kindness gave me a lifetime of enjoyment playing classical piano. (As noted, he now teaches piano to others.)  For those families that have insisted on compensating me in some small way, I would agree to have dinner with them before the lessons.

My desires for the lovely town in which I have chosen to call home is that it maintains its charm throughout the inevitable growth that it will experience.

Has your approach regarding the town and its greenways changed since your first foray into this arena?  My focus since the inception of the campaign to oppose the rezoning plan is the preservation of the greenway entrance “Green Wall” and to save the look and feel of entering into the Historic District on South Trade Street.  That has not changed. From the beginning, there were only two conditions which I have stated that are fundamental to my request for reasonable development: 1) that there would be no more than three houses facing South Trade Street and that these houses will have the average footprint, style, height and setback of the six remaining houses on South Trade Street and, 2) that the dense natural growth buffer between the site and the greenway entrance and the elementary school grounds be preserved.

What are your intentions for the future?  Life will continue much as it has…working to beautify my property, volunteering in the community and maintaining a close relationship with all of the wonderful people that I have met in the course of the opposition campaign.  As for being an activist, my desire is that all citizens in the town of Matthews become “activists,” that is, to actively participate in their local and regional governments.

And finally, what are your hopes for the future of Matthews? My desires for the lovely town in which I have chosen to call home is that it maintains its charm throughout the inevitable growth that it will experience.  In addition, I hope, I pray that the citizens of Matthews will be given a voice, a strong voice, in how their town develops. I intend to be instrumental in helping them have that voice.

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Take Me To Your Leaders: Meet the Town Manager

This post is Part III of a series explaining the roles of our leadership within municipal government. Part I: Meet your commissioners, Part II: Meet your mayor

The town manager is the CEO of the town staff.

The town manager is the CEO of the town staff.

Matthews operates as a municipal government with council-manager leadership. This means a body of town staff work alongside the Board of Commissioners to fulfill the policy decisions made by the Commissioners. The town manager is the designated head of town staff.

As an example, when it’s time to the renew solid waste service contract the town manager familiarizes himself with the proposals for presentation to the board. The board may have questions and the town manager (or public works) would best answer those questions. The board then votes for the best fit for the town and the manager then begins the process of renewing or signing the contract with that applicant.

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What is the manager's role in Matthews? The Town Manager is the Chief Executive Officer for the Town of Matthews and works at the pleasure of the Board of Commissioners. (In plain-speak, our Town Council is in charge of hiring and firing the town manager.)  He is responsible for the general administration and operation of the Town which includes the public services that make the town tick: police, fire and EMS, public works, parks and recreation, human resources, finance, and planning.

Who is the Matthews Town Manager? Our Town Manager, Hazen Blodgett, has been with the Town of Matthews for 15 years and worked in local government for over 34 years. Hazen has a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina. Upon receiving his Masters Degree he went to work as the Assistant County Manager in Halifax County, NC.

Hazen is married with four kids. He lives in Matthews and is on the Board of the Matthews Rotary Club.  In his spare time, he enjoys mountain bike riding, yoga, beekeeping, and trips to the Matthews Farmers Market.

September 24 Board of Commissioners Meeting

On the agenda for the September 24, 2018 Board of Commissioners Meeting promises to be shorter than most, with a few items of note on the agenda:

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  • Proceeds from a Budget Ordinance Amendment will be dedicated to the police force for bulletproof vests.

  • The Board of Commissioners will receive an update on the 2018 Planning Conference To-Do List. The Planning Conference is a three-day public meeting where the board discusses a broad array of items relevant to Matthews (see Meeting Packet pages 22-24). This conference will be in Matthews and the public is welcome to attend and listen.

  • The Board of Commissioners will consider methods for streamlining their meetings, especially during lengthier ones that include Planning and Rezoning. Notes for these considerations are in the Meeting Packet (pages 26-30) and vary from suggestions limiting the time for staff and applicant presentations to requesting speakers from the public limit their time to five minutes.

  • The Board will review the emergency services’ responses to Hurricane Florence for successes and opportunities for improvement.

Matthews Morning Minute: September 20, 2018

News About Town: Saturday, September 22, 2018, from 9:00 AM  12:00 PM, the Town of Matthews will hold a Community Meeting at Matthews Town Hall (232 Matthews Station Street Matthews, NC 20815).  If you’re curious what an overlay means, or if it affects you as a property owner, this will be a good time to get all the answers.

The meeting schedule:

  • 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. E. John Street/Outer Loop Small Area Plan

  • 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Entertainment District Small Area Plan

  • 11:00 - 12:00 p.m. - Monroe Road Small Area Plan

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News Above Town: The weather seems stuck: high of 89, low around 68. We’ll get a few days of slightly cooler temperatures starting Friday, so at least there’s that.

News Around Town: Family Dollar is packing their bags. In a statement released Tuesday, Family Dollar, a subsidiary of Dollar Tree, announced the consolidation of their headquarters in Chesapeake, VA. The closure will affect approximately 900 jobs.

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One Good Thing: Barks and Blooms, a Matthews-based pet sitting service, has organized a supply drive for pets affected by #Florence. Drop off items needed (see list above) at Your Mom’s Donuts or other area locations. Collected items will be taken to high-need areas such as Lumberton and Robeson County.

Matthews Morning Minute: September 18, 2018

News About Town: In August the Board of Commissioners delayed until October 8 to vote on an Overlay district for 3 Small Area Plans located around Matthews. The districts include the Entertainment District (which includes acreage around the Sportsplex), John Street/Outerloop (largely undeveloped property outside of 485), and Monroe Road Corridor (light industrial uses along Monroe Road around Family Dollar). The purpose of Small Area Plan Overlays (SAP-O) is to give the town enforcement capability with the three Small Area Plan policies. The Planning Department published an Impact by Area pdf, a 21-page detailed document further explaining the roles of SAP-Os. Public comments and concerns can be found here. The Town is hosting a meeting regarding the Small Area Plan Overlay on September 22 from 9 AM until noon. The Board will vote on the Overlay at the regularly scheduled Council meeting Oct 8.

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News Above Town: Florence has moved along, but is the rain over? The Magic 8 Ball says outlook good; The Weather Channel shows a break in the downpour, but the rain will start back up next week. As for today, appreciate clearer skies, lower humidity, and a high around 88.

One Good Thing: Beantown Tavern Annual Golf Tournament takes place Monday, September 24, 2018. Cost is $125 per player and includes green fees, balls, and a cart as well as three meals (one of which is dinner at Beantown) and a vodka bar. Call 704-849-2023 for more information.

Matthews Morning Minute, September 11, 2018

News About Town: Earlier this year the  Board of Commissioners approved FY 2018-19 Town Budget, which included a 1.5-cent property tax increase. A portion of this tax increase was designated to fund 10 full-time employees for the  Matthews Fire Department. The Fire Department is hosting a recruitment open house on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 10 AM til 1 PM.

News Above Town: The thunderstorms continue as reminders of Hurricane Florence. Town Officials are working with state and local partners to stay informed and ensure the town is prepared for the storm.

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News Around Town: The Town is holding a Finest Fido contest. Check out the fabbest five pups in Matthews then “like” your favorite to vote.

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One Good Thing: Seven members of the Matthews Fire & EMS Department participated in The 2018 Charlotte Firefighters 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

Each firefighter climbed the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center to honor fallen heroes from the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers.

September 10 Board of Commissioners Meeting

Prior to the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting, the Board of Commissioners will meet with Town Attorney Charles Buckley and town staff to discuss conditional zoning, conflicts of interest, and methods for streamlining meetings (also discussed as Item 9B in the previous council meeting pgs 70-72).

Large hardwoods are invaluable to Matthews' identity. The Appearance and Tree Board works to maintain our tree canopy.

Large hardwoods are invaluable to Matthews' identity. The Appearance and Tree Board works to maintain our tree canopy.

On the agenda for the September 10, 2018 Board of Commissioners Meeting are a few items of note:

  • The Planning Board will discuss by-right zoning;

  • The Matthews Appearance and Tree Board has been busy;

  • The Board of Commissioners will consider appointing Scott Query, son of commissioner Kress Query, to the Planning Board;

  • The Board will review the Town's response letter to NCDOT's plans for widening of Highway 51.

Take Me To Your Leaders: Meet your mayor

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As Mayor of Matthews, I want to maintain our small town appeal by supporting all of the great things that make us a desirable community. I look forward to guiding us in making smart decisions as we evolve and continue to be the greatest town in North Carolina.

Matthews operates as a municipal government with council-manager leadership. A mayor is an elected leader of a municipal government. Under Council-Manager organization, though, the mayor is a symbolic figurehead, but does not hold more authority than other Board of Commissioners.

Who is the mayor of Matthews?

According to the town website, Mayor Paul Bailey received a BS in mechanical engineering from NC State, and a masters in mechanical engineering at the University of South Carolina. He's married and has 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Paul and his wife Sherrie have lived in Matthews for 34 years. Previously Bailey served on Matthews Board of Commissioners and the CMS Board of Education before being elected Mayor of Matthews in 2017.

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What is the mayor's role in Matthews?

The Matthews Board of Commissioners use majority vote to approve or reject policies, adopt resolutions, among other duties for town-wide adoption. The mayor is a first among equals on the city council and his vote does not hold greater weight than other members of the Board. The mayor is, however, the first point of contact for the Town Manager when critical information should be conveyed to the Board. The mayor leads and mediates public meetings.

The Matthews Mayor is a part-time position, has a salary of $19,650 annually and a technology allowance of $3,600 per term. The position does not include benefits. 

 

Throwback Thursday: What is your vision for Matthews? (circa 2005)

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews News and Record (more recently named The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This article was originally published June 16, 2005.

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 More than 300 Matthews citizens flocked to city hall last week to express their personal visions for the future of their town. Neighborhoods and housing, cultural arts and historical preservation, schools, parks and recreation, town services, air and water quality - all of these aspects of the quality of life and character of the community were explored during this lively town meeting. 

Glenn Harbeck of Harbeck and Associates, commissioned by the town to help create a "vision" to direct future development, facilitated the session, traveling among the table groupings to discern what were residents' favorite streets, where they liked to walk, and what single issue was of most concern.

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At Commissioner James Taylor's table, residents expressed concerns about keeping Matthews a "quaint" town, controlling traffic, offering diverse retail and entertainment options, finishing connector streets, and saving trees. In another group, citizens were heard questioning downtown vacancies, overcrowded housing developments, traffic congestion, remaining part of the county school system, and the loss of ties to the area farming community. 

residents expressed concerns about keeping Matthews a “quaint” town, controlling traffic, offering diverse retail and entertainment options, finishing connector streets, and saving trees.

At the end of the evening, Harbeck observed that it didn't matter at what table he sat - the concerns expressed were universal. He noted that every citizen's sentiments will be entered into a database, sorted by category, and posted to the town's website. The information will be analyzed and vision statement drafted to reflection desires and concerns. Later this summer, he said, a proposed vision will be presented to residents. 

Take Me to Your Leaders, Town Council Edition

Matthews operates under a council-manager governance; this means we have a Town Manager who works alongside the Board of Commissioners (also known as Town Council).

Do you know who is on the Board of Commissioners and what their jobs are? 

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Matthews is governed by a Mayor and a six-member Board of Commissioners. There are 2 political races to fill these roles: one for Mayor and a separate for the 6-seat Board of Commissioners.  Both mayor and the board are elected every 2 years in a non-partisan race, and all of the seats are at-large, meaning no member of the board represents one segment of Matthews. The council member with the greatest number of votes is appointed as Mayor Pro Tem and serves as mayor in the absence of the elected mayor.

What do they do? The Board of Commissioners works in conjunction with the Town Staff to ensure all aspects of the town run smoothly. The Board's job is, among other things, to provide leadership by representing their constituents, provide direction toward the Town's future, and approve the annual budget with consideration for property tax rates. 

Currently serving on the board are (pictured below from left to right) Commissioners Chris Melton, John Urban, Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon, Mayor Paul Bailey, Commissioners Jeff Miller, Kress Query, and Barbara Dement.  Image source    Town of Matthews website

Currently serving on the board are (pictured below from left to right) Commissioners Chris Melton, John Urban, Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon, Mayor Paul Bailey, Commissioners Jeff Miller, Kress Query, and Barbara Dement. Image source Town of Matthews website

Serving on the Matthews Board of Commissioners is a part-time position, has a salary of $5,500 annually and a technology allowance of $3,600 per term. The position does not include benefits. 

Town Council meetings open to the public and are held the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 232 Matthews Station Street. If you cannot attend a council meeting, recordings are available by request, from Town Clerk Lori Canapinno