Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 2/14: Bus driver fatally shot, city's diversity hire steps down, Meck Co. jail slammed and more

Collin Cunningham

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Happy Valentine's Day!(Jon Tyson/Unsplash)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotte. It is Monday, Feb. 14, and Cupid's arrow must have landed in western North Carolina because Valentine's Day brings a sunny skyline and a high of 54 degrees. Temperatures will fall to 28 overnight, heralding a high of 56 and a few clouds on Tuesday.

Recapping the weekend into this week, a Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver died on Saturday following a shooting on Friday. Kimberly Henderson, the woman hired to oversee $80 million in racial equity funding for the Queen City, stepped down from her position over controversy-inspiring fraud allegations.

Woes continue at the Mecklenburg County jail, where North Carolina's latest report recommends major changes in response to staff shortages. Also offering recommendations is the Roundup, which has a few last-minute date ideas to commemorate the Feast of Saint Valentine.

1. CATS bus dies after being shot in Uptown

A Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver died at a local hospital on Saturday following a shooting on Friday evening. Detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are investigating the death of 41-year-old Ethan Rivera, who they found with life-threatening injuries inside the CATS bus he had been driving after receiving a call around 9:30 p.m.

The bus had apparently traveled off the road on the 500 block of West Trade Street, near the corner of South Graham Street. Police have yet to release information on a potential suspect or motive in the shooting but said the perpetrator fired gunshots at the city bus from an SUV. None of the four passengers on the bus sustained injuries during the shooting.

"[Rivera] was the victim of a senseless act of violence," CATS tweeted on Sunday. "Ethan was a public servant and valued member of the Charlotte community. We grieve with his family during this time."

2. Kimberly Henderson steps down from Mayor's Racial Equity Initiative over fraud allegations

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The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance named Kimberly Henderson director of the Employer Office of Inclusion and Advancement on Feb. 3(Courtesy of Charlotte Regional Business Alliance)

What happened: Less than two weeks after being chosen to head up Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles' Mayor's Racial Equity Initiative, former Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Henderson announced her decision to resign on Monday.

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance's Feb. 3 hiring of Henderson inspired controversy and criticism of Mayor Vi Lyles due to allegations that the Ohio organization had defrauded unemployment recipients of roughly $3.8 billion during her time there.

Why it matters: In a letter published Sunday, CRBA executives said a pair of oversight boards will now be responsible for distributing the $250 million in public and private funding set aside to improve living conditions for Charlotteans across racial boundaries.

In a LinkedIn post announcing her resignation, Henderson said she is not the subject of any criminal investigation, though WFAE reports Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost called for a legal inquiry. Henderson added the following in a letter to CRBA CEO Janet LaBar:

I believe that the work of the Initiative is too critical to be jeopardized in any way by public misperceptions related to my prior leadership as a Cabinet Director in Ohio and appointment as Executive Director.

3. State report slams Meck. Co. detention center, gives sheriff 60 days to fix staffing issues

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Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden and his office have until March 11 to fix staffing issues at the county jail,(North Carolina Sheriffs' Association)

What happened: Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden has 60 days to outline solutions for improving conditions at the county detention center as the result of an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Human Safety into violent attacks at the jail. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 9 of 2021, the Mecklenburg County Detention Center reported 454 violent altercations concerning inmates and employees.

Why it matters: The NCDHHS' latest report recommends that the sheriff's office improve staffing at the jail to prevent future violence. It comes less than two months after a previous letter from the NCDHHS recommended the jail reduce its population of 1,400 prisoners to 1,000. The jail held 1,348 inmates as of Thursday morning.

Responding to the state health department's findings in a press conference on Friday, WCNC reported that McFadden said the jail would not be closing and he had not received any paperwork urging depopulation. He also stated the following:

Mecklenburg County Detention Center, as I call it, is a great place and we give great care to our staff and our residents. And here's why. We've had over 1,200 COVID positive cases inside our detention center, over 1,200. Not one single resident has passed; 1,200 cases. So are we doing a better job than Novant? Are we doing a better job than Atrium? I would say yes because here we try to take care of our residents.

4. Valentine's Day in the Queen City: Last-minute date ideas for singles and couples in Charlotte

The Roundup has already filled readers' Russell Stover boxes with locally sourced ideas for romantic gifts and dinners to celebrate Valentine's Day in Charlotte but what about the single folks? Swooping in like a baby with wings for our readers spending the holiday alone, here are a few date ideas ripe for singles and couples in the Queen City.

This North Davidson brewery is co-opting the paint and sip concept into its bar atmosphere with a $15 evening of acrylics and amore. Forget expensive prix fare meals and indulge in brushes and glitter glue solo or duo style.

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Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area in Hiddenite offers an expansive view of surrounding hills and mountains(Courtesy of Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina)

A hike offers the perfect trial to prove the strength of your relationship with yourself or a significant other. Monday is predicted to be a bit chilly, but warmer weather on Tuesday and Wednesday and over the upcoming weekend will pave the way for outdoor opportunities.

Just over an hour north of Charlotte, the Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area in Alexander County is home to a five-mile trail. Single readers can go the distance, while couple climbers can spot each other on Rocky Face's mountainous wall.

  • Face a food feat

Readers can romance their inner Guy Fieri by submitting a food challenge in Charlotte. Fortunately, the Queen City's resident restaurants are no stranger to going big. At Chuy's Tex-Mix, burritos are so big that diners who take on the 'Big As Yo' Face Burrito Eating Challenge' could pretend the rolled tortillas are their new lovers, or just be content to win the eatery's T-shirt prize.

Or join up with a partner to try the Fatboy Challenge at Mac's Speed Shop. Finishing the burger with a plus-one might be cheating, but consuming a five-pound burger together is practically a marriage vow.

More romantic reads from the Queen City for Valentine's Day:

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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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