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5 Things to Know: Community Comes Together to Support Wade Family, Wooden Robot

...and four more stories from Feb. 18-24, 2024

Wooden Robot co-founder Dan Wade poses for a portrait holding a pint of beer
The Dan Wade Fund will support his family in the short- and long-term following his tragic death. (Photo via GoFundMe)

Community Comes Together to Support Wade Family, Wooden Robot

Friends, colleagues and admirers of Wooden Robot Brewery co-founder Dan Wade, tragically killed in a fall at the establishment’s South End location on Tuesday, have come together to support his family and business in a time of loss. 

After a post earlier in the afternoon announcing that the brewery would be closing both its taprooms until further notice, a post from Wooden Robot co-founder Josh Patton around 6 p.m. on Tuesday confirmed that Wade had passed. 

According to the Wooden Robot website, Wade and Patton became best friends in middle school, continued on as they became enthusiastic homebrewers, then launched Wooden Robot Brewery together in 2015. Wade became a father for the first time on Jan. 1, 2024. 

A GoFundMe campaign launched by Kim Vallejos and Jacki Keating to help his family with the financial struggles that will follow his death both in the short- and long-term has surpassed $150,000.

Wade became a new father on Jan. 1. (Photo via GoFundMe)

Other companies around the city have also announced their intentions to pitch in, including Hoppin’, which announced Wednesday that a portion of all of its sales from then until the end of March will go directly to the Wade family. Triple C Brewing Co. has added an option on its POS systems that allows customers to add a donation to their tabs.  

“Dan Wade was more than just a skilled brewer providing beer to the Charlotte Community; he was the backbone of his family, providing love, support, and stability,” the GoFundMe reads. “His passion for his craft was evident in every pint that came from Wooden Robot, and his warm personality left a lasting impact on everyone he encountered. He leaves behind his loving wife, and their beautiful newborn son.” 

Resident Culture Brewing Company has also launched a Staff Bereavement Fund to help Wooden Robot employees who now face an uncertain future.


NC Supreme Court Takes Up Leandro … Again

The NC Supreme Court on Thursday once again heard arguments that could lead to the overturning of its own landmark decision in Leandro IV from just 15 months ago. The original lawsuit has been debated for 30 years. 

In November 2022, the NC Supreme Court ruled in favor of implementing the Leandro Plan, created by Gov. Cooper’s administration after he took office in 2018 as a proposed solution to the long-running Leandro case, first filed in 1994 by five school districts and parents within those districts who claimed low-income children were being denied their constitutional right to a sound basic education. 

The decision paved the way for a $785-million boost in funding for public schools from the state.

The NC Supreme Court decided to rehear the case on appeal, breaking with precedent that states that a ruling must be appealed within 30 days of the decision. 

“This Court resolved the question of subject-matter jurisdiction in Leandro IV,” Justice Anita Earls stated in her dissent to the decision to rehear the case. “In that case — just 11 months old — the Legislative-Intervenors raised the same arguments they do in their bypass petition: That the trial court lacked jurisdiction to remedy constitutional deficiencies in public education. We examined that claim and ‘unequivocally rejected’ it.” 

In a statement on Thursday, NC Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton pointed out that the resumption of the case is simply a political move by NC GOP leaders such as Senate leader Phil Berger, who is named in the case and whose son sits on the court and refuses to recuse himself.

“Our public schools are about to face a devastating blow thanks to the power hungry duo, Tim Moore and Phil Berger, and their coordination with the state Supreme Court that they have in their pocket, and in their family,” Clayton wrote. “Our state constitution requires that all students have the opportunity for a sound basic education but now it’s on the chopping block due to the rehearing of the Leandro case. This ruling will have a devastating impact on our state, our schools, and most importantly, our students. We have public servants actively dismantling public education to embolden private schools. This is not what the people of our state want.”


County Peacekeepers Academy Graduates First Cohort

Mecklenburg County’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) will graduate its first cohort of the Peacekeepers Academy, a learning series for grassroots organizations working to prevent community violence, this afternoon at Revolution Park Sports Academy in south Charlotte. 

The eight-session learning series was developed to strengthen the capacity of grassroots organizations fighting community violence in Mecklenburg County. 

Participating organizations receive: education/technical assistance from experts focused on violence prevention, best practices on organizational efficiency, lessons on how to measure and track success, lessons on how to increase scalability of services, holistic public health approaches to prevent and interrupt the cycle of violence, and a financial grant to support efforts to learn, implement and achieve resilience including dedicated computers to track an organization’s work.

“Grassroots organizations are the backbone of this work to stop and prevent community violence. Their work, passion, and commitment are an inspiration to us all,” stated Dr. Kimberly Scott, assistant public health director of population health, which oversees OVP, in a release. 

“We want to help these community partners create a sustainable pathway with tools and resources. We don’t want them to burn out because this work is intense, and the Peacekeepers Academy is providing respite and tangible tools to those working to make our communities safer.”

The Peacekeepers Academy is part of OVP’s holistic public health approach to preventing and interrupting the cycle of violence. 

Read more: New County Department Prepares Violence Prevention Plan

The first Peacekeepers cohort includes the following organizations: A Giving Heart Project; Ausie & Martin Rivens Scholarship Foundation; Carla A Carlisle, LLC; Concrete Roses Life Center; Family Mankind; Gryphon Group Advisory + Consulting, LLC; Help Adolescents Speak Out; The Queens Collective Birthing; Unique Blessings; Youth Education & Arts.


Eight Arrests Made at Eritrean Protest in Southeast Charlotte

A couple hundred people launched a protest against supporters of the Eritrean government on Monroe Road shortly before noon last Saturday, Feb. 17. 

People had gathered to protest a nearby Eritrean cultural event being held in observance of the 34th anniversary of the Fenkil Offensive, also known as the Second Battle of Massawa, an important victory for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front fought in February 1990. 

Social media posts showed that event organizers had expected protesters to show up outside of the event, issuing a cease-and-desist order on Feb. 14 warning people who had been discussing the protest online that anyone planning to cross state lines to “incite or participate in a riot” could face federal charges. 

The beginnings of a protest on Monroe Road on Feb. 17. (Photo by Liz Haigler)

CMPD deemed the protest unlawful as participants began to block the street, with officers closing Monroe Road from McAlway Drive to Alliance Drive for much of the afternoon into the evening. 

Police attempted to physically remove protesters from the road, eventually deploying pepper spray after police claimed that protesters threw items, became combative and intentionally set a tractor-trailer on fire.

Eight people were arrested during the standoff, which lasted around 10 hours, and now face charges including impeding traffic, failure to disperse, inciting to riot and assault on a government official, among others. Several firearms were reportedly seized from protesters. 


Toddler Kills Self with Unsecured Firearm

A 3-year-old boy was killed in a tragic accident on Wednesday after he shot himself with a gun that was left unsecured in an east Charlotte household.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call at a home on Eastway Drive, where they located the toddler suffering from a gunshot wound. Medic transported the boy to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, but he was later pronounced dead.

According to CMPD, “The initial investigation reveals that the shooting appears to be self-inflicted from an unsecured firearm.” No arrests have been announced at the time of this writing.


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