Charlotte, NC

Windy TGIF in Charlotte: Jail pregnancy program, Duke's solar fees, Pence prays for Roe v. Wade and more

Collin Cunningham

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Former Vice President Mike Pence plead for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade via prayer during a South Carolina visit on Thursday.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, QCR Readers, and welcome to the weekend, courtesy of a Friday, May 6 update. Today's 84-degree high in Charlotte will be buffeted by strong winds and, possibly, hail, showers and thunderstorms, That's according to a Thursday report from a South Carolina National Weather Service station, which also sets a "slight chance" for a tornado.

Moving into Friday's news, incarcerated people who are pregnant in Mecklenburg County will soon have access to care services during their sentences. Hoping to access Supreme Court magistrates, former Vice President Mike Pence piously pleaded for Roe v. Wade to be overturned at a Rock Hill church. We also detail a controversy surrounding Duke Energy's proposed solar panel fees before our six-day weather report and weekend reading list.

But first, feedback: We want to hear from you to help improve the Roundup. Have a suggestion for changes or new daily features, or want to sound off on a recent story? Drop us a line in the comments section.

1. Care Ring: New initiative aims to aid pregnant mothers at Meck. Co. jail and their children after inmate dies

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Charlotte nonprofit Care Ring aided more than 700 Mecklenburg County mothers and their new children with care services in 2021.(Courtesy of Care Ring)

What happened: With Mother's Day approaching on Sunday, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office is partnering with a local nonprofit to pilot a program that seeks to put parents at the county detention center in touch with child care services. The news comes as the jail reports its second prisoner death in the past month.

Care Ring: In the hopes of mitigating the various issues faced by incarcerated mothers, the Mecklenburg County detention center has inked a deal with Charlotte-based nonprofit Care Ring to put parents in touch with cost-free child care options. Taking the form of complementary prenatal and infant resources, Care Ring Executive Director Tchernavia Montgomery said the initiative would last from the time of a child's birth until they reach age two.

The program could be especially beneficial to imprisoned Black mothers, with WCNC reporting that African American infants are five times as likely to die in their first 12 months than their white counterparts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state on their website that Black women "are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women."

Inmate dies: Between May 1, 2021, and May 5, 2022, six people died within the confines of Mecklenburg County's main jail. The latest is 33-year-old Derrick Geter, whose cause of death has not been named since it was first reported on Thursday. Prior to that, MCSO staff attributed 47-year-old William Rhinesmith's death to suicide after finding him hanging in his cell on April 19.

The parents of a 17-year-old boy referred to in court documents as "D.W." are suing the detention center and MCSO Sheriff Gary McFadden over a separate suicide at the jail in November of 2020, per WCNC. Also aiming criticism at the jail is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which recommended the law enforcement agency depopulate the jail following reports of COVID-19 outbreaks, staffing shortages and violent incidents between inmates and employees.

2. Pence piously pleas at Rock Hill church: Overturn Roe v. Wade

Former President Donald Trump may have last visited the Carolinas for a rally in April, but a National Day of Prayer service brought his running mate to Lakewood Baptist Church in Fort Mill to appeal to a higher power to overturn the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

Clasping his hands together in the hopes that a leaked draft opinion suggesting the turnover "will hold and become part of the law of the land," former Vice President Mike Pence's words came amid the Carolina Pregnancy Center's Spring Gala, an anti-abortion event that drew over 1,000 people.

Other prayer proposals from Pence were directed at "all the members of congress" and the five justices named in the decision published by Politico on Monday, who he hopes "have the courage of their convictions and will give us a fresh start on life in America," per WBTV.

Wednesday's Roundup covered North Carolina's standing abortion policy, which would not result in immediate bans on the surgeries, but the state to its south would outlaw most abortions outright through a "fetal heartbeat bill" that took effect in February of 2021. The law prevents doctors from completing abortive procedures once a prenatal heartbeat can first be detected, essentially rendering abortions illegal if they take place more than six weeks after initial conception.

3. Panel problems: Energy users react to Duke Energy's proposed solar panel fee

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Solar panels are considered the cleanest source of energy commonly available to U.S. residents, but they still result in waste as they age.(Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)

Protesting crowds at the Charlotte-based Duke Energy's former Uptown headquarters served as a physical backdrop as employees of the energy provider met virtually for the company's annual meeting on Thursday. Hot on their minds was a proposal for a $10 monthly fee for solar panel installers and lower payments for contributing to the electrical grid.

Up for consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly, the extra payment and reduced earnings are meant to put solar customers' bills in line with those who have not placed the panels on their homes. Kim Porter, a spokesperson for NC WARN, said the change would prevent more North Carolinians from adopting solar solutions, which are considered to be the least-harmful sources of commonly available energy.

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that over 28,000 solar panels, enough to power over 1 million homes, have been installed throughout the Tar Heel state. Prices have decreased by 4% over the last half-decade, but Duke's proposal would reverse that trend, even as the company asserts "rapid clean energy progress."

4. Weekend reading list

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Amid taking a gun to the Charlotte airport and accusations of insider trading, North Carolina District 11 Rep. Madison Cawthorn runs again.(Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee/Getty Images)

It was a busy week in Charlotte. and the Roundup can only be so long. Here are a few stories that weren't touched upon but still deserve readers' attention.

5. Six-day weather forecast

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Weather data pulled from Weather.com(Collin Cunningham/NewsBreak)

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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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