Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 12/2: Another CMS lockdown, traffic delays expected for VP's visit, ACC Championship preview, NC fire

Collin Cunningham
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will face the Pittsburgh Panthers in Saturdy's ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Learn more below.(Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotte, and welcome back to another edition of the Queen City Roundup! Today, we recount a fight-induced lockdown at another Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools building, and how school board members are keeping their eyes on the superintendent. With Vice President Kamala Harris coming to Charlotte today, traffic congestion is expected, and we'll let you know which areas will be best to avoid.

Saturday will bring the ACC Championship Game to the Hornet's Nest, so keep reading to find out what time the game starts, who will be duking it out for the title and what effect the game might have on the city. Lastly, we follow up on the wildfire at North Carolina's Pilot Mountain, which has burned over 1,000 acres and is still going.

Today is Thursday, Dec. 2, and here's what every Queen City resident needs to know.

1. Fights lock Julius Chambers HS down the same day that CMS leaders evaluate superintendent

What happened: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was on campus at Julius Chambers High School near University City on Wednesday to respond to a report of multiple students fighting. Police did not name any of the students who took part in the fight and the school remained locked down through the end of the day.

School principal Erik Turner told parents of Chambers students that "A fight among multiple students occurred this morning on campus. Law enforcement was called to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff."

In other news relating to fights at CMS, CMPD officers discovered a gun in a Harding University High School student's backpack after coming to the school to respond to a fight around noon on Tuesday. Police did not identify the students who were involved in the fight but said two have been charged due to it.

Why it matters: Both events come the same week that CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston faced his annual evaluation. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education called a special session at 4:30 p.m. during their Tuesday meeting to assess Winston. The superintendent has been with CMS since 2004 and has headed it up since 2019 when the board hired him without conducting a search and offered him a $280,000 contract.

Over the past 12 months, Winston has had to deal with rising violence at CMS schools following a year of hybrid and virtual learning as well as reports of students sexually assaulting other CMS pupils. Winston's handling of the sex assault reports caused some district parents to call for his resignation in November. The district also suspended the principal and vice principal of Hathorne Academy of Health sciences after a 15-year-old victim said she was suspended for reporting an assault last month.

But it doesn't look like Winston will resign anytime soon, as the CMS board inked a new contract with Winston back in February that will keep the superintendent at the district through 2025. If they terminate him, they have to pay him two years' salary, which is now $288,400 annually thanks to a 3% bump.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston(Earnest Winston/LinkedIn)

2. CMPD: VP Harris' visit expected to delay traffic in Charlotte

What happened: It's the beginning of December, but instead of Santa Claus, Vice President Kamala Harris is coming to Charlotte today, and rather than presents, CMPD said they expect her to bring traffic delays between the city's airport and South End district from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Beyond that, police did not name any specific roads that may see more traffic.

Why it matters: Joined by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Harris will make a pit stop at the Charlotte Area Transit System bus garage at 3145 S. Tryon Street at 11:20 a.m. She will speak about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Act at 11:55 and by 2:50 p.m. she should be back at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, boarding a plane for Washington.

3. ACC Championship game in Charlotte: Pitt and Wake Forest to battle it out, but low attendance expected

What's happening: Saturday is the ACC Championship Game, the match that will decide the best football team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and it's taking place at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte at 8 p.m. The match will see the 10-2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons from the ACC Atlantic square off against the 10-2 Pittsburgh Panthers. The game will air on ABC and ESPN Radio at 8 p.m. and the ACC Network will have extended coverage through the weekend.

Websites like Ticketmaster and SeatGeek still have tickets for sale starting at $38 as of Thursday morning.

Why it matters: The championship match may matter a bit less to Charlotte than in years past because the Clemson Tigers aren't playing. WSOC reports the game is typically a boon for local business owners, with fans spending $26.4 million during a Clemson-Georgia matchup in September. But, with neither the South Carolina team nor Georgia appearing in the game for the first time since 2013, local tourism executives anticipate lower ticket sales due to less name recognition.

Charlotte is looking to be the next home of ACC headquarters after the conference announced in November that it is considering moving its home base out of Greensboro, according to Axios.

4. 1,000 acres and counting: Firefighters say Pilot Mountain wildfire is 50% contained

What's happening: Fire crews said on Wednesday that they have contained about 50% of a wildfire that has claimed over 1,050 acres of Pilot Mountain State Park north of Winston-Salem. The park has been closed since Sunday when firefighters say an unattended campfire in an undesignated fire area spread to surrounding trees.

Why it matters: As we reported yesterday, North Carolina has temporarily made it illegal to have a fire unless it's within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling under a statewide burn ban, which remains in effect. And, though firefighters have gotten it partially under control, the wildfire has consumed nearly a third of the 3,800-acre park, which is known for its naturally occurring, knob-shaped rock.

In November, a campfire led to a wildfire that claimed 25 acres of land at another upstate peak, Sauratown Mountain in Stokes County. The North Carolina Forest Service red Incident Management Team said that blaze was 100% under control on Tuesday, per WWXI 12.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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