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Community news briefs, Dec. 2

Long-term health study needs more men

Only one-third of participants in the long-term Murdock Study are male. The decadeslong, community-based health study began in 2007 and is focused on Cabarrus and sections of Mecklenburg, Rowan and Stanly counties.

So far, only one-third of the 9,500 volunteers who have joined the research study are male.

“We know there’s about 50 percent men and 50 percent women in this community,” said Dr. Kristin Newby, a principal investigator for the Murdock Study. “They just don’t volunteer as much as women.”

To accurately portray the region’s demographics, the study has begun mass enrollments at fire and police stations, where employees are predominantly male.

Each day of the three-day mass enrollment held at station No. 3, firetrucks from other stations brought in 10 to 12 volunteers for the study.

The study is open to anyone age 18 or older who either lives in or is a first responder in the community. After blood and urine samples are taken, participants have their blood pressure checked and waist circumference measured. They’re also asked to fill out a questionnaire about their health. Lisa Thornton

Public feedback sought on light rail extension

To get public feedback, Charlotte Area Transit System and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department will host two public meetings in December about the LYNX Blue Line Extension light rail project.

The roughly 9-mile extension is expected to start serving 11 light-rail stations between uptown and the UNC Charlotte campus in 2017, according to CATS officials.

The project includes four parking facilities. Once operation begins, all the stations will be served by CATS’ network of feeder buses as well.

A public meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, 101 W. Sugar Creek Road, will update residents and business owners on the progress so far, the effects of construction on surrounding areas and what to expect in the immediate future, said CATS spokeswoman Judy Dellert-O’Keef.

The second public meeting and workshop will be on Dec. 10 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Oasis Shriners Center, 604 Doug Mayes Place, and will be for the three University City transit station area plans on University City Boulevard, McCullough Drive and J.W. Clay Boulevard, said Amanda Vari, a principal planner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department. Hilary Trenda

Charlotte Christian starts new building

Charlotte Christian School broke ground Nov. 25 on a 20,000-square-foot arts and science building that will become the new face of the school.

The new Hendrick Center for Arts and Science, the first building in Charlotte that Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick and wife, Linda, have allowed to use their name, is expected to be open for the 2014-15 school year.

The building will house the lower school’s STEM lab, media center, technology lab and music classroom as well as music, arts and math classrooms, and the offices of the director of academics and lower school principal.

The building is part of Charlotte Christian’s long-term master site plan, which eventually will add an auditorium, a new athletic facility and outdoor athletic space on the school’s 54-acre property. About 60 percent of the property, which stretches far back from Sardis Road, is developed.

Rick and Linda Hendrick emerged as the lead donors and agreed to have their name used on the building.

The Hendricks have three grandchildren and a great-niece and great-nephew who attend the school. Three of their nieces also have attended Charlotte Christian. Marty Minchin

Residents question Park Road accidents

A half-mile stretch of Park Road has seen a 120 percent increase in accidents year-over-year, and residents want the city to consider changes to the road.

So far in 2013, there have been 11 accidents along the stretch of Park Road from Seneca Place to Selwyn Avenue, according to data released by the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

In 2012, there were five accidents.

“It’s an ongoing issue,” said resident Justin Childers. “You’ve had a fatality, cars hitting buildings – it’s definitely an issue.”

Depending on the severity of the accident, the road is closed at times. And sometimes, residents lose power.

But according to data released by Charlotte DOT spokeswoman Linda Durrett, accidents on the road have been on the decline except for last year.

In 2011, there were 15 accidents; the year before, there were 14.

Regardless, some residents said they would like the city to put up a rail or wall along the road to prevent vehicle accidents from affecting property and utilities off the curb. Elisabeth Arriero

More towns ban tobacco use

Restrictions on tobacco use are spreading across Catawba County, with three municipalities already approving or expected to pass policies aimed at snuffing the habit on municipal property.

A tobacco-free policy will take effect Jan. 1 in Conover, which unanimously approved the ban last month. In Claremont, council members are expected to follow suit in a vote at a regular meeting this week.

In Brookford, a town of about 400 residents that has only three full-time employees, officials already are enforcing the policy on its property, consisting of only one municipal building and a playground.

“We’re not trying to force people’s habits,” Claremont City Manager Doug Barrick said. “If someone wants to enjoy their cigarette or tobacco, they’re free to do that … just not on city property.”

Such policies already have been adopted at the county’s three school systems and other public institutions like the Catawba Valley and Frye Regional medical centers. In March, the county expanded its smoke-free policy on its property to include chewing tobacco.

Of the eight municipalities in the county, only two are without any such policy – Catawba and Longview. The municipality with the largest population, Hickory, has a ban on smoking on public property. Jake Flannick

Statesville board poised for major change

It’s been more than 30 years since the Statesville City Council has experienced the type of change it will undergo 7 p.m. Monday as four new members take the oath of office at the same time.

The change is the result of four incumbent council members who decided, for various reasons, not to seek re-election.

Newcomers Jarrod Phifer, William Morgan, Michael Schlesinger and Arnold Watt will replace Bonita Eisele, John Gregory, Ron Matthews and Cecil Stallard. Morgan and Schlesinger are at-large representatives; Phifer is from Ward 3, and Morgan is from Ward 5.

“I can’t remember when we have had this much turnover in council,” said Morgan, 50, founder of Capital Management Group, an investment and retirement planning firm.

Mayor Costi Kutteh, who ran unopposed, will begin his third consecutive term on Monday. Dave Vieser

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