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AROUND THE REGION

Free eats: On Election Day this Tuesday, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at 9301 E. Independence Blvd. in Matthews will offer one free star-shaped doughnut with red, white and blue sprinkles to each customer wearing an "I Voted" sticker.

SOUTHERN MECKLENBURG

BALLANTYNE

521 Recreation Center is taking registrations for the 521 Stars Cheerleading Squad. The noncompetitive squad is for girls ages 6-17. The $55 registration fee includes uniforms, practice pom-poms, and a trophy. Practices are held Thursdays 6-7 p.m., and games are on Saturdays beginning in December. Squads will cheer during youth basketball games throughout Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation. For more info: Crystal.Johnson@mecklenburgcountync.gov; 704-540-2426. Celeste Smith

Ballantyne Breakfast Club will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday for a program called “Ballantyne Means Business.” Speakers include Bissell Company CEO Ned Curran, Bissell Hotels President Joe Hallow, and representatives from Bank of America, the Charlotte Chamber, Ballantyne Village and Charlotte City Council. They will discuss the impact and growth of Ballantyne. Free. Ballantyne Resort, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. Information: 704 651-1237. Esther Robards-Forbes

MATTHEWS

All seven mayors in Mecklenburg County have signed a resolution supporting the park and recreation bond package on Tuesday's ballot.

If approved, county commissioners could spend $250 million over the next seven years for park and recreation needs across the county.

About 15 percent of that money, $39.4 million, would come to southern Mecklenburg to develop new parks in Mint Hill, Matthews, and Pineville.

Mint Hill mayor Ted Biggers says residents in and around his town need more parks. Currently, Mint Hill has two town parks, but no county park within their jurisdiction

Pineville mayor George Fowler says Pineville is overdue for a new park. The town currently has two town parks but no county park.

Matthews is in the bond for a new county Sportsplex, a facility with a number of fields and a stadium that can host major tournaments for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and other sports.

Matthews mayor Lee Myers says the Sportsplex will be a boon for all of Mecklenburg, with major tournaments bringing in families from up and down the East Coast to play, shop, eat, and fill hotel rooms county wide.

Here's what the park bond would bring to southern Mecklenburg:

Mint Hill, $3.6 million for Ezell Farms, a 90 acre tract off N.C. 51 between Mintwood Drive and Well Road; $7.2 million for development of Stevens Creek Nature Preserve, a 225 acre tract at I-485 and Idlewild Road.

Matthews, $25 million for development of the 160-acre Sportsplex at I-485 and U.S. 74.

Pineville, $3.6 million to develop a 45-acre community park off Lakeview. Melinda Johnston

MINT HILL

The Ezell Farms Park Steering Committee, made up of Mint Hill Park and Recreation committee members and area residents, met for the first time Monday.

They are charged with creating a master plan for a new county park that will be developed on 90 acres located off N.C. 51 between Mintwood Drive and Well Road.

At the initial meeting, led by county park staff, steering committee members were introduced to the park planning process and given a chance to start listing their wants and concerns for the new park. It's expected to be developed with both active and passive components.

The planning phase should last 6 to 9 months, and will include several community meetings to give the community a chance for input as well.

The next steering committee meeting is not yet scheduled, but the town will post that information on the town's website www.minthill.com when it becomes available. Melinda Johnston

PINEVILLE

The Pineville Art Guild will meet 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. Thursday at The Hut, 413 Johnston Drive. The evening will feature a video on watercolor by the late Zoltan Szabo. Szabo was born in Hungary and later immigrated to Canada and then to the United States in 1980. He lived in Matthews until his death in 2003. Szabo was famous for his watercolors and books on his painting techniques. Celeste Smith

The town council recently recognized Pineville Police Sgt. Dan Martin, who graduated in June from the 233rd session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

The program, started in 1935, is a 10-week management course geared toward law enforcement executives. Participation is by invitation only, through nomination and an extensive application process

There are 250 participants in each session drawn from every state, from U.S. territories, and from over 150 foreign nations.

Pineville Police Chief Rob Merchant, a graduate of the 205th session of the academy, says the course helps develop leadership skills and provides worldwide networking opportunities with law enforcement personnel.

In addition to Martin and Merchant, Pineville Police Captain Jaymes Holden also is a graduate.

Pineville Town Administrator Mike Rose said “We're very proud. This is a difficult program just to get accepted to. The fact that the Pineville Police Department has three graduates of the FBI National Academy is outstanding.” Melinda Johnston

STEELE CREEK

Join the Steele Creek Public Library staff Monday at 10:15 a.m. for storytelling and “toe-tapping tunes.” For ages 3 to 5; call 704-416-6800 to register. The library is located at 13620 Steele Creek Road. Celeste Smith

SOUTH CHARLOTTE

The public is invited to watch two upcoming cross-country running competitions at the McAlpine Creek Park and Greenway course, 8711 Monroe Road, on Nov. 15 at 11a.m. and Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Competitors include an elementary school-age team from Sugaw Creek Recreation Center, who are part of Cross Country for Youth. The program introduces youngsters in elementary and middle school to cross-country training and character-building through one-mile runs.

UNION

INDIAN TRAIL

Officials from the N.C. Turnpike Authority told Indian Trail leaders last week that this could be their last public appearance before they recommend a route for the Monroe Bypass/Connector.

The Turnpike Authority recently finished a round of meetings in Union County. Reid Simons, director of government and public affairs for the authority, said they now would buckle down to finish a draft environmental statement.

The TPA is considering two routes, called 18A and 2, which cut through Indian Trail and Stallings. Both towns are formally supporting Route 18A.

Simon stressed Tuesday that the TPA had not made a decision. The TPA will consider “facts and data,” cost and impacts on people, businesses and the environment, she said.

Simon also addressed the now controversial “Great Wall of Stallings.” That's a mile-long section of U.S. 74 that – under part of Route 2 – would be raised to 25 feet on a solid platform.

She and Carl Gibilaro, head engineer for the project, said if Route 2 is chosen, the raised road could be designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and that it would not simply be an earthen wall.

The Turnpike Authority will make its recommendation for a route to the Federal Highway Administration, which will make a decision, in late December. Simon said 2013 is a “very optimistic” opening date for the bypass. Marty Minchin

MONROE

Carolinas Medical Center-Union, 600 Hospital Drive, features “As Soon As You Know” on Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. The free class is designed for couples early in their pregnancy (during the first trimester). Learn about the importance of prenatal care, nutrition, activity and routine prenatal tests. For reservations: 704-283-BABY. Celeste Smith

UNIONVILLE

The Unionville branch of the Union County Library will permanently close on Saturday.

The Union County Board of Commissioners have authorized Union County Library Director Martie Smith to close the branch. The board of commissioner's action is in response to a recommendation passed on June 17 by the library board. A library branch has been located in the Unionville Town Hall since January 2003. Several factors have contributed to the library's lack of success, including its location and limited space.

YORK

FORT MILL

Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church, 238 Fort Mill Highway, is holding a community blood drive on Nov. 19 beginning at 3 p.m. at the church. Celeste Smith

LAKE WYLIE

The REI Foundation has awarded a $5,000 one-year grant to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation to launch a new youth program on Lake Wylie. The Youth Kayaking River Expedition program will begin in the spring of 2009. It will bring a message of water conservation and natural protection to the youth of North Carolina and South Carolina. The program will provide a hands-on opportunity for students to see how their drinking water at home is related to the water in the Catawba River system. Details: 704-679-9494. Dan Huntley

ROCK HILL

York Technical College student Gina Bruce presents her literary sculpture during a “Conversation with the Artist” event today beginning at 2 p.m. at the Anne Springs Close Library on the York Technical College campus. Refreshments will be served. The campus is at 452 S. Anderson Road. Celeste Smith

“Talents Too Good to Be Hidden Under a Rock” is the focus of Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church's contemporary service next Sunday, Nov. 9, from 6- 7 p.m. The community is invited to enjoy homemade cookies, desserts, and winter beverages before and after the service in the Activities Center, located at 504 Oakland Ave., across from the church. Contact the church for information at 803-327-2006. Celeste Smith

YORK

The Yorkville Art Guild will host its 2008 Art Auction on Friday at The Magnolia Room at 4017 Laurel Creek Dr. in Rock Hill. Tickets are $15 per person, $25 per couple. Dinner, complimentary beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks included. Dollar raffle tickets are available for chance on three pictures. Tickets for sale at the door or call Jack Bolin at 803-328-6747. Dan Huntley

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