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5 Things To Know: Kannapolis Greenlights First Local Social District

...and four more stories from Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2021

social district
The approval of a social district in Kannapolis will allow for off-premise alcohol consumption. (AdobeStock)

Kannapolis Greenlights First Social District in the Charlotte Area

Acting on a law passed by the North Carolina General Assembly earlier in September, the Kannapolis City Council this week approved designating a “social district” in downtown Kannapolis, allowing for off-premise alcohol consumption within the boundaries of that district. The new ordinance will enable patrons of ABC-permitted establishments to leave the property with an alcoholic beverage and drink it on sidewalks and public areas within the social district.

The Kannapolis social district, named the West Avenue District, consists of a number of streets adjacent to Atrium Health Ballpark, the new home of the Kannapolis Cannonballers and the anchor of a planned revitalization in the downtown area. The ballpark itself will not be included in the district. 

“The West Avenue District lends itself to this type of social district,” Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg wrote in a statement following the council’s decision. “We revitalized our downtown area to be a place where people of all ages can enjoy themselves. We specially created areas where people could dine outdoors and this legislation allows people to buy an alcoholic beverage and food at our new restaurants and brewery and sit outdoors and enjoy their meal.” 

Kannapolis City Council will also enact certain restrictions “to ensure the downtown area remains a safe family-friendly destination.” They are as follows. 

  • ABC permitted establishments must ensure they meet all legal requirements for carding and limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. The establishment can only serve two beers/wine drinks or one liquor drink to one patron at a time.
  • Drinks must be purchased and consumed within the boundaries of the West Avenue District.
  • Anyone with a drink in the designated West Avenue District must throw away the drink before leaving the district.
  • Drinks must be in specially labeled cups which will be sold by establishments in the West Avenue District. They must be less than 16 ounces.
  • Drinks will only be allowed in the district from 10 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday; and noon to midnight on Sundays.
  • Once the patron leaves the establishment with the drink container the patron cannot enter any other building in the downtown or a vehicle without discarding the drink.

When asked if he’s aware of any conversations about potentially enacting social districts in Charlotte, District 1 city council representative Larken Egleston said “nothing significant is really happening on that front yet,” though he has had conversations with stakeholders in certain neighborhoods who are interested in seeing the city move forward with it. 

New Community Care Center Will Treat Opioid Use Disorder

City leaders and advocates in the substance abuse field gathered on Tuesday for a groundbreaking — though ground had already been broken — at a new Wellpath Community Care Center scheduled to open in north Charlotte in early 2022. The care center, located at the corner of West Sugar Creek Road and Hunter Avenue in the Derita neighborhood, will implement medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and outpatient substance use disorder programs for people struggling with opioids or other substances including alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine. 

According to the Wellpath website, MAT is the use of FDA-approved medications, including Suboxone, Vivitrol, and in some locations, Methadone, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. 

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Tuesday’s ground-breaking was more of a table-smashing. Pictured (from right): Mecklenburg County Commissioner Leigh Altman, Wellpath Community Care President Neil Schamban, Sheriff Garry McFadden, and City Council representative Malcolm Graham. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

When asked how this center’s programs will differ from usual treatment centers that deal in opioid addiction, Wellpath Vice President Melissa Bishop told Queen City Nerve, “It’s a comprehensive approach to substance abuse treatment. We’ll be providing services not only for substance use but also co-occurring services for people struggling with anxiety or depression, which will help in their engagement and treatment and stability. It’s a one-stop shop rather than having to make them go to multiple providers.” 

Wellpath opened its first North Carolina Community Care Center in Winston-Salem in April and already partners with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office to run its behavioral health units inside the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.

CMS Confirms Death of 7-Year-Old Boy From COVID

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools confirmed on Thursday that a 7-year-old boy killed by the COVID-19 coronavirus was a student at Stoney Creek Elementary School in northeast Charlotte. While it is just the second pediatric death due to COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County this year, and an outlier to be sure, the tragic occurrence has raised concerns for parents of children who are not old enough to be vaccinated but are back in school full time. 

This week, the CMS Board of Education approved adding a virtual learning option for some K-2nd grade students whose doctors sign off based on medical need. A mask mandate is in place for all students and staff inside CMS schools. 

social district
(Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to the most recent data released Friday morning, 664,664 Mecklenburg County residents, or about 60% of the population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 56% have been fully vaccinated.

According to that same data release, there were 2,457 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed among Mecklenburg County residents over the past week, and 27 deaths resulting from the coronavirus. According to more in-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday, there had been an average of 353 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day over the past week, a decreasing trend compared to previous weeks. On average, 336 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on any given day, and there was a 8.9% test-positivity rate among county residents, both decreasing trends.

Olympic High Students Protest Following Sexual Assault Arrest

More than 100 Olympic High students staged a protest outside of the Steele Creek school on Friday after a 15-year-old student who had been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting another student was allowed to play in a football game following his arrest. 

Police say that a 16-year-old girl alleged she was sexually assaulted by the suspect on Sept. 13, and he was interviewed and arrested the following day. The teen faces charges of attempted second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, and sexual battery. 

CMS released a statement on Friday that read, “CMS has taken action to protect classroom instruction at Olympic High School from disruption and to maintain safety of students in the classroom. These actions also will protect the safety of the school’s student-athletes during practices and competition. We cannot provide any further detail of those actions and cannot comment about any individual student due to [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] FERPA.

“The district is aware of a student-driven demonstration planned for today at Olympic High School. CMS and school leaders support the right of students to demonstrate when they feel such expression is necessary. School leaders have met with student organizers and are working to minimize disruption to the learning day while offering students the opportunity to share their concerns.” 

Multiple students at Friday’s protest said they do not feel safe at the school. 

Dena King Nominated For District Attorney

Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he has nominated Dena King to replace Andrew Murray as US Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, which includes 32 counties stretching from Mecklenburg to the Tennessee state line. King, a South Mecklenburg High School graduate, would become the first person of color to serve in the position’s 150-year history if approved by the Senate. 

“I congratulate Dena King on this history-making achievement,” wrote U.S. Rep. Alma Adams in a statement Wednesday. “If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first Black woman to serve North Carolina in this role. Ms. King is a superbly qualified attorney, an HBCU graduate, and a dedicated public servant. I urge the Senate to confirm her without delay.”

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