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No tax revaluation, Meck officials urge

Mecklenburg County commissioner Karen Bentley plans a news conference Monday to urge county officials to delay the upcoming revaluation of properties until 2010.

Bentley and the three other Republican commissioners have said the worsening economy, including the recent acquisition of Wachovia, makes it the wrong time to give out new property values because it could lead to higher tax bills for many residents. They say waiting could allow the county to better account for forecasted declining home values in the future.

But some of the board's Democrats have said the county should continue with its revaluation. Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander also told commissioners this week that a delay in the revaluation would cost the county more time and effort, and could end up placing a higher tax burden on residential property.

Mecklenburg hasn't had a revaluation of property since 2003. State law requires one every eight years.

Her news conference is set for 11 a.m. Monday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St.

April Bethea

Meck briefs

Charlotte

Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe strongly endorsed a program that provides alternatives for children who are unsupervised after school.

Speaking Friday on behalf of Partners in Out-of-School Time (POST), Monroe said the crime rate among young people triples between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. In their loneliness and boredom, unsupervised children more frequently become both victims and perpetrators of crime, he said. Some turn to gangs for companionship.

“The hours between 3 and 6 can be … a matter of life or death,” Monroe told a breakfast crowd of more than 200 at Bryon's South End. Other speakers included Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman.

POST links children with after-school programs and activities across Mecklenburg County. To learn more: www.postcarolinas.org.

Rick Thames

The Metrolina AIDS Project and the Mecklenburg County Health Department will offer free HIV and AIDS testing this weekend as part of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

The free tests will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Plaza Fiesta shopping center near Carowinds.

Latinos comprise about 14 percent of the U.S. population, and nearly 19 percent of all AIDS cases in the country, the Mecklenburg health department says on its Web site.

Rogelio Aranda

More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to fan out across the Charlotte area today, working at dozens of community service projects as part of the 16th annual Hands On Charlotte event.

Today's effort is part of a yearlong program that provides assistance to about 700 projects in the Charlotte area.

Volunteers will gather from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the EpiCentre, at South College and Trade streets, for a kickoff event. Would-be volunteers can register at the kickoff.

Steve Lyttle

An east Charlotte neighborhood group will sponsor a yard sale today to raise money for battling a city of Charlotte decision that cleared the way for development of Independence Woods, a neighborhood planned off Independence Boulevard.

The Coventry Woods Neighborhood Association Yard Sale is set for 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in the 5300 block of Coronado Drive, off Sharon Amity Road, north of Independence Boulevard.

The neighborhood association's battle against the development has gone to the N.C. Court of Appeals in Raleigh, with a decision expected next year.

Steve Lyttle

Annual Peace Prize nominations must be made by Oct. 31 to the Charlotte Area Peace Corps Association.

The prize is presented to a person or group making a difference in their community. Last year, awards went to Homeless Helping Homeless and Physicians Reach Out for their work in the community.

Nominations should describe the nominee's activity and include their name, address, phone and e-mail as well as contact information for the nominator.

E-mail nominations to jmurphytw@hotmail.com or send it to Peace Prize, P.O. Box 30151, Charlotte, NC 28230. The prize will be awarded in November.

Jim Morrill

The first local screening of the documentary “The Singing Revolution” will be sponsored by Wingate's Jesse Helms Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, but not in Wingate: It's at Ballantyne Village Theatre, off Johnston Road near Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance; visit www.jessehelmscenter.org or call 704-233-1776, ext. 8.

The film uses interviews and historic footage to follow Estonia's peaceful path to freedom. In 1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered to sing forbidden patriot songs, defying decades of occupation. Their songs helped lead to independence and herald the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Lawrence Toppman

Davidson

The town of Davidson needs at least 70 residents to sign up by Wednesday to help plan its future.

Davidson is paying consultant Rhodeside-Harwell of Alexandria, Va., a total of $100,000 over two fiscal years to help it develop its first Comprehensive Plan that will serve as a guide for the future.

Most such government plans focus solely on land use, but Davidson's also will include such areas as public art, citizen leadership, recycling and pedestrian issues, town spokeswoman Sara-Lynne Levine said.

Residents can sign up for a study group at PlanDavidson.org.

Joe Marusak

Huntersville

Riders of the 77X CATS bus who park along Griffith Street should use the Huntersville Northcross Park and Ride lot beginning Monday because of a town of Davidson Griffith Street improvement project. The work will last until mid- to late November, officials said.

The Huntersville lot is at 17126 Northcross Drive, off Interstate 77 Exit 25. Turn right onto Sam Furr Road off the interstate ramp and then turn right onto Northcross Drive. Go about 0.4 miles to the lot, which is on the right.

Joe Marusak

Regional briefs

Cabarrus County Concord

A male employee of Phillip Morris USA died from injuries suffered in a workplace accident at its Concord plant last week, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

A Cabarrus County EMS official said the accident occurred Oct. 8. The worker died Thursday from his injuries. David Sylvia, the director of media affairs for Altria, parent company of Phillip Morris, confirmed the death Friday.

“Safety is a critical priority for us,” Sylvia said. “When something like this happens, we want to work to make sure that it never happens again.”

Sylvia said this was the first work-related death at the Concord plant since it opened in 1983, but said he did not know the details. He said the Occupational Safety & Health Administration was investigating the accident.

Kevin Cary

Iredell County Mooresville

Soiree, a fine-dining restaurant on South Main Street, reopened Friday after being closed by the state this week for failing to pay $73,000 in sales taxes collected from customers.

Owner Jon Spencer said the restaurant worked for several months with the state to pay back taxes “that we did not realize had not been filed properly.” He said the nationwide financial collapse dried up the restaurant's credit line, and Soiree struggled to get the financing needed to meet the state's timeline on repayment.

“Our financing did come through today, and the state lien has been paid in full,” Spencer said Friday.

Soiree has been a major anchor in downtown Mooresville's revitalization. The restaurant opened in a historic building in January 2006 and employs about 35 workers.

Joe Marusak

Police digest

Mecklenburg County Charlotte

A person was found dead inside a burning west Charlotte home Friday evening and investigators are trying to figure out what sparked the fire.

Investigators haven't released the name of the victim or other identifying information. Neighbors said a woman who may have been in her 80s or 90s and her son lived in the yellow house.

About 25 firefighters were called to the house around 6:30 p.m. Friday after neighbors said they saw smoke, said Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Rusty Garrison. They found the body inside. Garrison said the blaze was still under investigation; he wouldn't say where the body was found.

Monique Johnson, who recently moved to the neighborhood near West Boulevard and Interstate 77, said she saw the chimney smoking and thought her neighbor had lit a fire on a drizzly night when the temperature dipped into the 50s.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

York County Rock Hill

A fire that destroyed three houses and damaged two others in Rock Hill is being investigated as arson, police said Friday.

Thursday's fire at five houses along Soft Winds Village Drive started “under suspicious circumstances,” a police report notes. The fire caused $735,000 in damage among the five houses. No one was hurt.

A State Law Enforcement Division tracking dog indicated several areas of concern, according to a news release issued Friday from the city of Rock Hill. The release did not elaborate.

Toya Graham, (Rock Hill) Herald
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