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5 Things to Know: Search for Allisha Watts Nears Two Weeks

...and four more stories from July 23-29, 2023

A woman, Allisha Watts, and man, James Dunmore, pose for a selfie together, with a photo of a Black Mercedes cropped in to the left.
Allisha Watts (pictured with James Dunmore) and the vehicle she was last seen in, recovered in Anson County on July 18.

Search Continues for Allisha Watts

Friends, family, volunteers and multiple law enforcement agencies across the state are still searching for 39-year-old Allisha Dene Watts, the Moore County woman who was last seen leaving a home in University City on July 16, and whose black 2023 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 was discovered in Anson County on July 18.

Watts, 39, left her Moore County home for Charlotte on July 14. She was last seen leaving her boyfriend James Dunmore’s home on Pamela Lorraine Drive in northeast Charlotte’s Faires Farms neighborhood on Sunday, July 16. Police reportedly found Dunmore in her car in the parking lot of the DMV office in Polkton two days later.

When first approached by one of the troopers known to frequent the site, Dunmore told them he was napping, according to the Anson County Sheriff’s Office. Three hours later, troopers confronted him again and found him unresponsive. His medical condition is unclear at the time of this writing.

On Tuesday, friends and family reportedly searched an area near Airport Road in Wadesboro, acting on a tip that evidence regarding Allisha Watts’ disappearance could be found there. None was reported to be found. Police were seen searching Dunmore’s home in Charlotte on Wednesday.

Police ask that anyone with info about Allisha Watts’ disappearance call 9-1-1.

Gastonia Honey Hunters on Edge of Financial Collapse

Revelations regarding the financial struggles of the Gastonia Honey Hunters, currently playing its third season, came to light over the past week after the players refused to take the field for their Friday night game against the Maryland Blue Crabs on July 21.

Four people in Gastonia Honey Hunters jerseys huddle together in prayer
Gastonia Honey Hunters owner Brandon Bellamy (second from right) leads a prayer during the team’s first ever game in Gastonia in 2021. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Unknown to fans at the time, the players were sitting out to protest the fact that they had not been paid for a period of time, though for just how long is unknown at the time of this writing. The players eventually took the field, and in the following days, the Atlantic League to which the team belongs worked out a deal to pay the players through the end of the season.

The controversy has brought other issues to light involving large sums of money owed to the city, spurred by reporting from Indy Ball Nation. The team reportedly owes the city $50,000 in management commissions and $30,808 for this year’s lease of the stadium while it owed the county $22,150 in late payments to the paramedics, according to WSOC. The Gastonia Police Department also announced on Wednesday that it will no longer provide off-duty officers for security at games until the team settles it debt with the department.

Brandon Bellamy shakes Magic Johnson's hand, both are in Gastonia Honey Hunters jerseys.
A deal between Bellamy and friend Magic Johnson reportedly led to the team’s financial woes. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

On Friday, July 28, WBT’s Brett Jensen reported that team owner Brandon Bellamy, who called in help from friend and NBA legend Magic Johnson to get the team off the ground, signed a five-year deal upon the team’s launch in 2021 that sends all revenue from concession sales to Johnson. “As a result, the team is trying to survive on ticket and merchandise sales, and advertising,” Jensen tweeted. “The financial collapse was inevitable.”

Jensen also reported that the Atlantic League is currently looking for interested buyers to purchase the Gastonia Honey Hunters franchise from Bellamy.

Carolina Farm Trust Set to Break Ground on West Charlotte Facility

A new distribution facility that aims to help tackle food insecurity in west Charlotte is set to break ground next week after years of planning. Carolina Farm Trust this week announced a groundbreaking ceremony at the site in the Thomasboro-Hoskins neighborhood scheduled for Aug. 3 at 9 a.m.

They also unveiled a name for the food distribution and production center, CFT Market, and a new general manager for the market, Hot Box Next Level Kitchen owner Michael Bowling.

“[Bowling] will be stepping away from his day-to-day operations to be a part of this movement,” read a release on Wednesday. “[CFT and Bowling] aim to increase the accessibility to affordable nutrient dense foods. This gives the Charlotte community the gift of feeding our people through supporting our local farmers and land.”

People tour what will be food production and distribution facility in West Charlotte
Community members tour what will soon be a new food production and distribution facility on South Hoskins Road in west Charlotte. (Courtesy of Carolina Farm Trust)

Queen City Nerve first reported on the coming facility in February 2022 after Charlotte City Council voted to allocate $1.5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to build it. The location is the site of an old food production and distribution facility on South Hoskins Road, with 25,000 square feet of existing building space and 60,000 square feet of open space around it.

According to Wednesday’s release, the market will serve residential and commercial customers with year-round local food while also hosting collaborations with farmers to foster regenerative farming practices and other environmental protecting practices such as ESG and carbon neutrality.

Police Take Down Teen Boy for Swimming in Pool

WSOC this week shared video from a bystander showing police slam a Black teenage boy to the ground at the Cambridge Commons community pool in far-east Charlotte on Thursday after he reportedly refused to leave.

The temperature in Charlotte on Thursday reached 93 degrees. The boy is a resident of the neighborhood, according to witnesses who spoke with WSOC, though pool rules state that nobody under 18 is allowed at the pool without an adult supervisor.

Witnesses told WSOC that, though it’s unknown who called the police, officers talked to the group of boys for about 20 minutes before the physical confrontation, which reportedly started when one of the boys refused to leave the pool area. Video, which can be viewed at WSOC’s website, shows two officers on top of a boy they have tackled to the ground.

He does not appear to be resisting in the video, which was confirmed by at least one witness who spoke to WSOC’s Glenn Counts.

DreamKey Partners Breaks Gound on Affordable For-Sale Townhome Development

DreamKey Partners on Tuesday hosted a groundbreaking event for a new affordable for-sale townhome development, Aveline at Orange Street, in southeast Charlotte’s Grier Heights neighborhood.

While census data shows the median household income drops by 60% as you enter Grier Heights from adjacent affluent neighborhoods such as Eastover and Myers Park, the Aveline development aims to create affordable options for first-time homebuyers and reduce gentrification in the neighborhood.

A rendering of the Aveline at Orange Street townhomes. (Courtesy of DreamKey Partners)

“As house prices continue to rise in Charlotte, we are finding ways to create affordable solutions for homebuyers,” said Julie Porter, president of DreamKey Partners, in a release on Tuesday. “It takes many resources like funding and partnerships to address a very complex societal problem and our Aveline at Orange Street homes will help preserve homeownership opportunities for families for years to come.”

With expected completion in summer 2024, each townhome will be 1,550 square feet with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a two-car garage, starting at $284,000. Target homebuyers have a household income of up to 80% of the area’s median income. Additionally, qualified homebuyers can get up to $80,000 in down payment assistance and/or register for the Financial Empowerment Education course provided by DreamKey Partners at the organization’s website.

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