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Charlotte Smart, Fast: Aug. 5, 2015 -- County rescinds benefits for unmarried same-sex couples

The Charlotte Government Center, 600 E. Fourth Street, Charlotte
The Charlotte Government Center, 600 E. Fourth Street, Charlotte dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

It’s Wednesday. We’re one step closer to the weekend. Here’s what you need to know to be Charlotte Smart this morning in less than three minutes.

THE BIG STORY: Now that gay marriage is legal nationwide, the Mecklenburg Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved cutting health benefits for domestic partners of gay county employees. Domestic partnerships = long-term relationships between people of the same sex who live together and are financially interdependent.

The change, which goes into effect in January, makes the rules the same for all county employees; The county doesn’t offer benefits to unmarried straight couples.

Joel Riddle, the county human resources director, said the county could save about $32,000, but only if gay employees remain unmarried.

Last week, the city cut benefits for the domestic partners of 19 employees.

KERRICK TRIAL UPDATE: The second day of testimony in the voluntary manslaughter trial of CMPD officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick featured a debate over crime-scene photos of a bloodied and handcuffed Jonathan Ferrell. Twice Tuesday, Ferrell’s loved ones left the courtroom as photos of Ferrell were displayed on an overhead screen.

Kerrick’s lawyers argued that the photos were repetitious. The lead prosecutor said each photo illustrated an important angle of the crime scene. Judge Robert Ervin even resorted to taking scissors and cutting Ferrell’s body out of two images.

AMELIE’S UPTOWN UNDER CONSTRUCTION: And owners are planning to open the French restaurant and bakery’s new location in about two months. Signs announcing the store are up on the windows and demolition is underway. The location will be Amelie’s largest by far.

PLAY AT THE PUMP: Do you get bored during the few minutes it takes to fill up your car’s gas tank? You’re in luck! The N.C. lottery introduced a new feature that allows people to play jackpot games at the pump. Only one station in Charlotte offers the service right now: Murphy USA on Galleria Boulevard.

CLEAN UP: Mecklenburg County will again pay to have the Confederate monument near the Grady Cole Center cleaned after it was defaced for the second time in about three weeks. Sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning, the names of eight of the nine people killed in the mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston were etched in black paint on the monument. The first restoration cost about $379.

MONUMENT
A Confederate monument in Charlotte has been vandalized for the second time in three weeks.The Confederate monument on North Kings Drive, between the Grady Cole Center and Memorial Stadium, was spray painted on both sides. TODD SUMLIN tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

IN THE KEY OF WELLS FARGO: Next time you find yourself humming along to that music in a Wells Fargo branch, you can thank Charlotte resident Fred Story. He’s the Emmy-winning composer who creates original music for more than 80 percent of the bank’s roughly 6,200 branches in the U.S.

Sounds like money.

Photos: Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer; Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer

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