By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, QCR Readers! You may be reading today's updates on the bus, at work or while waiting in line, but any student of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' West Charlotte High School will have to read it from home after the building pivoted to virtual learning today due to a student firing a gun on campus.
During the Charlotte City Council's Monday night meeting, the group made decisions that could result in the SouthPark neighborhood becoming a taxable municipal service district and purchased less deadly bullets for officers in the city's police department. Also, where is LaMelo Ball? The Hornets' point guard hasn't played since Dec. 1, and the team is scheduled to play the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. We'll fill you in on Charlotte's wins and losses since we last covered the basketball team, and see if we can predict when Ball and others will return.
And part five of our Charlotte Gift Guide pulls more inspiration for presents from patents, with inventions that originated in North Carolina. It is Tuesday, Dec. 14, and here's what every resident of Charlotte needs to know.
What happened: Students at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' West Charlotte High School are spending today learning remotely at home after the district closed the building in response to a student firing a gun outside the school at 2:16 p.m. on Monday. The Charlotte Observer reports that police said a juvenile is facing charges for possession of a firearm on the University Park campus. Nobody was injured.
Why it matters: Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the firearm discovered Monday is the 23rd gun to be confiscated from CMS students on school grounds this school year. Last week, CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston urged district families in a video message to take an "all hands on deck" approach to prevent weapons from winding up in district buildings. The district has spent over $400,000 on clear backpacks that leaders hope will discourage students from carrying weapons to schools when they arrive in February.
2. City Council OKs SouthPark tax district, buying "less lethal" bullets for CMPD
What happened: SouthPark is in line to become Charlotte's sixth municipal service tax district and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will be getting additional "crushable foam rounds" for their guns at a cost of $55,000 per year to the city. City Council voted to approve both measures at their meeting on Monday, giving the go-ahead to city staff to create a final report on the benefits of the district.
Under the proposed district, SouthPark, which is home to a 1.6-million-square-foot SouthPark mall, would generate $1.35 million each year by charging residents four cents for every $100 in the value of their property, though single-family neighborhood won't apply.
Why it matters: As for the tax district, SouthPark residents have wanted to turn the lucrative area into a district that would feed revenue back into the city since 2016. Making SouthPark a tax district would allow the money generated through taxes to be used on capital improvement projects and community outreach programs in the south Charlotte neighborhood.
The bullets, meanwhile, are considered "less lethal" than lead hollow-point munitions typically used by police departments. The foam rounds are already in use by the CMPD, and District 1 Council Member told the Observer that "This is not a new tool for [the department]."
3. When will LaMelo Ball again get the ball? Hornets have won 2, lost 3 since guard's last game
Per CBS Sports, LaMelo Ball could return to the hardwood wearing a Hornets jersey as early as tomorrow, when the 15-14 Charlotte team is set to face the 10-16 San Antonio Spurs. The defensive player has not seen play since entering the NBA's health and safety protocols on Dec. 1, and the team has won against the Atlanta Hawks and, most recently, the Sacramento Kings (124-123) on Friday. But they've also lost thrice, flubbing a two-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers last week and then getting trounced by the Dallas Mavericks, 120-96, on Monday.
Given San Antonio's record heading into tomorrow's game, and the fact that the team has lost three of their last five, Ball's services may not be needed. At least they'll have P.J. Washington, who rejoined the team for Monday's game after entering protocols for a non-COVID illness on Friday. Charlotte forward/center Mason Plumlee could also be back on the court tomorrow for the first time since Nov. 24.
4. Timely Queen City Holiday Preview: Charlotte Gift Guide, Part 5
Charlotte gets inventive, and so do we. Continuing yesterday's gift guide, which highlighted Charlotte inventions like Cheerwine or orange traffic cones to give as gifts, today's guide has even more North Carolina inventions that make great gifts.
Everything's hotter in North Carolina. With the state recently seeing record-high temperatures late into the year, there's no gift more timely than a bottle of Texas Pete, which was first brewed by TW Garner Food Company in Winston-Salem in 1929. The company has a variety of giftable options available at its online store, including a variety pack of three sauces for $4.50. Real Texas Pete freaks may be happy to unwrap a variety package of the company's Backyard BBQ sauce or even a piece of apparel, like this nice Texas Pete trucker hat or sunglasses strap.
Pay homage to North Carolina's putt-putt roots by gifting a visit to this upscale, 21+ mini golf bar/restaurant concept. The business will open its doors for the first time on Friday, so your best bet is to call ahead to see if you can get reservations. General admission starts at $50 per person, while entire tables for up to 10 guests can be rented out for $1,500.