Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 1/4: Changes to Meck Co. jail and Uptown, power outages, Wizards wrangle Hornets

Collin Cunningham
The MCSO's Detention Center rises out of the ground in Uptown like a massive parking deck crossed between a 90s-built shopping mall.(Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)

Oh, won't you stay
Just a little bit longer?
Please let me dance
And say you will (Say you will)

— Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, "Stay"

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) A perfect time capsule of 1960s doo-wop, Charlotte R&B vocalist Maurice Williams released the song "Stay" in 1955 with his band, The Zodiacs. The lyrics hit especially hard today because Charlotte won't stay the same: The Roundup covers several events that may alter the fabric of the Queen City in the coming weeks and months. The first concern the Mecklenburg County jail, which will be seeing fewer inmates after a COVID-19 outbreak infected 81 employees and a quarter of its inmates.

Other switch ups could be coming to Charlotte's Uptown district after the city, the county and a neighborhood nonprofit proposed a Center City 2040 Vision Plan. Powerful gusts of wind changed North Carolinians' plans yesterday, knocking out power for over 200,000 residents in the state and more than 1,000 in Mecklenburg County.

And the Hornets failed to change the score in the final seconds of last night's away game against the Washington Wizards. We'll tell you what led up to Charlotte losing, 124-121.

It is Tuesday, Jan. 4, and here are the changes that residents of the Queen City need to know for today.

1. Meck Co. sheriff promises depopulation at county jail following state inspectors' report, COVID-19 outbreak

What happened: Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden said he plans to move inmates out of its jail in Charlotte due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. McFadden's comments came Monday, nearly two weeks after inspectors from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services paid the building a visit.

Their report recommends that at least 400 of the jail's inmates, roughly a third of its 1,400-plus population, be moved off-site as soon as possible due to unsafe conditions.

"... the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office is working to reduce the resident population inside the Mecklenburg County Detention Center - Central (MCDCC)," reads the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office's response to the report. "We are currently working with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety on transferring residents that have been sentenced to DPS facilities."

Why it matters: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' report also states that 81 staff members and more than 350 inmates housed in the detention center were infected with COVID-19 on the date of the inspection. Inspectors have also said that staffing shortages may prevent jails from evacuating inmates during an emergency.

2. Charlotte Center City Planners plot more redevelopment, open space, equity in Uptown
Charlotte Center City Planners' previous vision plan laid out goals for 2020 after City Council approved it in 2011.(Courtesy of Charlotte Center City Partners)

What's happening: Similar to the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan, stakeholders in the city's Uptown district are looking to create a charter that will lay out the future of the neighborhood. The All in 2040 Center City Vision Plan is a collaborative effort between Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Center City Partners, an Uptown-based community development nonprofit.

The nonbinding plan seeks to bring more public parks and other outdoor spaces to the Queen City's downtown area It also lays out goals for new development to accompany planned projects like Atrium Health's innovation district and whatever development takes place on the recently rezoned Charlotte Pipe & Foundry land, which may hold the Panthers' next stadium.

Why it matters: The plan is still in its drafting stages, but an early copy of the 160-page document can be read here. It also envisions a "Center City Equity Fund" that will be used to support residents with the development of new job opportunities, affordable housing and subsidized commercial rents, among others.

Charlotte City Council OK'd the plan in December and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners are expected to vote on it before the end of January.

3. Over 40,000 Carolinians still without power following Monday storms

Strong gusts of wind reached speeds of up to 55 mph on Monday, causing 211,000 residents to lose power during the peak of the outages. Per WBTV, Mecklenburg County witnessed 1,000 outages and, while Duke Energy has repaired many of the damaged connections, more than 40,000 residents of North and South Carolina won't have electricity until 6 or 7 p.m. today.

“The combination of damage to the system, [the] sheer number of outage locations from the wind, and challenging work conditions are the reason this restoration will extend beyond today,” Duke Energy said Monday. The storm resulted in the first Winter Storm Warning

4. Wizards wrangle Hornets in Washington 124-121

The Washington Wizards defeated the Hornets in D.C. by a hair last night as the teams traded leads over the course of two-and-a-half blistering hours of ball. The Wizards were up by 13 at the top of the second quarter, but Charlotte managed to rebound in the second, scoring 21 more than the team from the nation's capital.
The Washington Wizards' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (and a fan pictured behind) reaches to follow through on a shot during Monday's game(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Going into the final two minutes of play, the Hornets looked pretty good. A layup from Terry Rozier put the score at 113-111, Charlotte, but the Wizards' Kyle Kuzma stampeded across the court for a three-pointer that gave Washington enough momentum to assembly line enough free throws to take the win. Rozier, Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward all put in work for the Hornets, earning 25, 23 and 27 points apiece.

The Hornets are now 19-19 overall this season heading into tomorrow's home game against the Detroit Pistons. Charlotte's schedule is emptier this week than last: the team is slated to face the Milwaukee Bucks in a two-game home series on Saturday and Monday before hitting the road to play the 76ers in Philadelphia on Jan. 12.

Below the Fold

Monday storms, continued: The storms that caused Monday's power outages also led to the first major snowfall in the mountains dotting the western border of North Carolina. WCNC reports skies delivered up to eight inches of snow in the areas around Beech, Sugar and Grandfather mountains, while warmer, mid-50s temperatures in Charlotte kept the Queen City to a nice rainfall. Today is set to be sunny, with highs in the upper 40s for most of the day before decreasing to the low 30s overnight.

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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!

Charlotte, NC

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