Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

CMS to Cut Ties with Dr. Wilcox in Weekly News Roundup

By Ryan Pitkin

July 20, 2019

The Doctor Is Out at CMS

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox has agreed to resign from his position in a shady separation agreement that promises his personnel file will remain private if he resigns without compensation. Wilcox will leave his position on Aug. 2.

The CMS Board of Education announced the agreement after a private meeting on Friday morning. Wilcox was suspended with pay on Monday for unspecified reasons. 

Dr. Clayton Wilcox in a CMS publicity photo from when he was hired. 

Many people have speculated that the rift between Wilcox and the board stemmed from his failure to ensure that new teachers were being fingerprinted upon their hiring. Wilcox took responsibility for the fact that new hires hadn’t been fingerprinted since last June, when a new company was brought on to handle background checks. It is CMS board policy that new hires be fingerprinted. 

Wilcox was on the job for only two years, and whoever replaces him will be the sixth CMS superintendent in a decade. A vote of confidence from the CMS Board in January gave Wilcox a two-year contract extension until 2023 and a $27,000 raise in his annual salary to $307,000. 

An open letter to the community from the CMS Board on Monday was titled, “We Will Keep Moving Forward Together,” and tried to calm fears of parents among yet another crisis of leadership for CMS.

“Families, our shared goal across the district is to maintain close focus on giving your students every opportunity available and to work tirelessly to support them,” the letter states. “CMS colleagues and staff, we pledge our continuing support as leaders to our shared efforts. We each have an important part to play in making sure we do our absolute best for our students no matter our job title, role or position. In the days and weeks ahead, we will move forward together in trust and we will keep our focus on what matters most — each and every CMS student.” 

CMS Chief Engagement Officer and ombudsman Earnest Winston will serve as acting superintendent until a replacement is found, according to CMS. 


ABC Act Opens Things Up For Distilleries

First they let us drink on Sunday mornings, then they allowed beer in college sporting events, and now it’s another victory for the boozehounds as the North Carolina legislature passed the ABC Regulatory Reform Act, which will allow North Carolina distilleries to sell mixed drinks on their premises.

In effect, the law opens it up for local distilleries like Great Wagon Road Distilling Company or Doc Porter’s Distillery, both in the South End area, to open cocktail bars similar to the brewery tap rooms that have become so popular over the last 10 years.  

Andrew Porter, owner of Doc Porter’s Distillery, in his distillery in 2015. (Photo by Jeff Hahne)

The law will also do away with the cap that stated any given customer was only allowed to buy five bottles from a distillery in one year, as well as allow distilleries to hold sample tastings at local ABC stores. 

The law passed through the N.C. Senate by a good margin on Wednesday, with a vote total of 31-10. It was presented to Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday and awaits his signature. 


I-77 to Open Up Shoulders

The Saga of 77 (Yes, we just made that up as we typed it) added a new chapter this week as the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization accepted a request from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to cypher money from 20 other projects around the state and create a “peak-period shoulder lane” on I-77, allowing drivers to drive on the shoulder during peak hours to reduce congestion. 

The project would reportedly cost $47 million, which will be siphoned from eight pedestrian/bicycle projects and 12 road projects around the state. 

I-77 Mobility Partners, which operates the controversial toll lanes currently being built on I-77 in the northern part of the county and further north to Mooresville, pushed back immediately, because of course they did. A spokesperson released a statement insisting that the first stretch of the toll lanes, the first stretch of which located between Huntersville and Mooresville opened on June 1, are already improving congestion that the new lanes would aim to fix. The spokesperson also implied that the project would breach the contract between the state and I-77 Mobility Partners. 

The peak-period shoulder lane project would not begin until the toll lanes are fully open, which is expected to happen by September. 


Lake Norman Cove Reopened After Bacteria Scare

The county believes geese are to blame for a bacteria spike at a swimming spot in Lake Norman. (Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes when you’re stuck in that I-77 congestion in northern Mecklenburg County you might look off to your right (if you’re going north) and look at a cove with people swimming in it and wonder why you are living in the hell you’re currently in rather than swimming in a fantasy land like the people in the water. This week, not so much. 

A “No Swimming” advisory was lifted from Lake Cornelius — a cove in Lake Norman that’s between Davidson Street in Cornelius and Catawba Avenue in Davidson — on Thursday after seven days in which bacteria levels were found to be too high to allow any frolicking during peak frolicking season. 

Mecklenburg County announced on Thursday that the bacteria levels were back to normal. According to a release, “The cause of the elevated bacteria levels could not be confirmed, but staff suspect that a large goose population in this cover contributed to the increase.” 

Gross. 


Double Murder Kicks Off Week

The city saw three murders this week, including a double murder on Sunday, bringing the total number of homicides to 64 in 2019. 

Just after 12:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, police responded to a shooting call on Electra Lane off Idlewild Road in southeast Charlotte. Responding officers found three men suffering from gunshot wounds. Two of the victims — 33-year-old Gerardo Arellano-Sanchez and 31-year-old Miguel Angel Molina Cruz — were pronounced dead on the scene. The third victim, 24-year-old Hugo Arellano-Sanchez, was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. 

Just after 9 a.m. on Friday morning, police responded to a call for a car that had crashed into a residence and caught on fire on Pinson Pine Lane in east Charlotte. First responders pulled 29-year-old Kelvin Dunlap Jr. from the car’s wreckage and found that he had been shot in the chest. Dunlap would have turned 30 on July 29. 

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