Car slams into southeast Charlotte town home, injures mother and children

A mother and her two children were taken to the hospital as a precaution after an SUV plowed into their townhome in southeast Charlotte Monday morning.

It happened around 6:29 a.m. at the Arcadian Village townhomes on Cedars E Court.

The property manager told Charlotte-Mecklenburg police she accelerated while making a U-turn and slammed into the unit, where the mother and children, ages 4 and 7, were sleeping downstairs.

“My husband called me and said a car just rammed into our house,” said Shantay Sowell, recalling a phone call she received from family as she pulled into work.

Sowell said her children and grandchildren were asleep in the house when the car came crashing into the kitchen. She said one of her grandchildren was thrown from a recliner.

"When the car came through the kitchen he got knocked out of the recliner," said Sowell. “My daughter panicked, went upstairs and opened the windows cause she said she smelled smoke and got all the kids out of the house.”

Four children and one woman were inside the home in total according to Sowell. Her other two children were asleep upstairs.

“It could have been worse,” said Sowell. “I’m imagining what could have happened… My grandson was in a recliner. If that wall wouldn’t have been there my grandson would have been under her car… An angel came and pushed him out of the recliner.”

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Big Brother’s Charlotte finally gets some screen time as she rumbles Chanelle

You couldn’t really be blamed if you’d forgotten there was someone called Charlotte living in the Big Brother house.

After all, she’s done absolutely nothing of consequence, stayed out of the house’s biggest rows and was basically an afterthought in last week’s eviction of Joe Quaranta.

However, Tuesday’s highlight show largely became The Charlotte Show as she had her first big house blow-out and was brought to tears by this week’s temptation-themed shopping task.

All throughout the week, the housemates have faced either reuniting with loved ones from the outside world or resisting to help win the group a luxury shopping budget.

Only Andrew showed enough willpower to turn down a letter from home, meaning the housemates were running dangerously close to failing the task. This left Charlotte more than a bit concerned.

"I think people who have only been here for a couple of weeks should sacrifice theirs," a tearful Charlotte ranted in the Diary Room. "I’ll be fuming if I don’t hear from my family or friends! Sue says she’s not bothered, she’s been here for 10 days so whatever."

But viewers had one major objection to her line of thinking:

Charlotte it’s not your place to tell anyone how long they can miss their loved ones for. Wipe your damn crocodile tears. #bbuk

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Prince George, Princess Charlotte set to charm Poland, Germany on royal tour

Prince George and Princess Charlotte will tour Poland and Germany with their parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, later this month, in a second overseas adventure for the popular royal children aimed at helping maintain smooth relations with Europe.

On Monday, Kensington Palace announced the schedule for the Cambridges’ upcoming five-day tour, starting July 17 in Warsaw, Poland, with the news that George and Charlotte will be going along on the trip, undertaken at the request of the British Foreign Office.

"They have decided that their children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 2, will travel with them and we expect the children to be seen on at least a couple of occasions over the course of the week," the palace statement said.

It will be the second overseas tour for the two children; in October, the family of four toured British Columbia for a week in western Canada. George, who turns 4 on July 22 (the day after they return from Europe), also accompanied his parents on a three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia in 2014, when he was about 8 months old.

These trips are always popular with the locals, even when it’s just Will and Kate, who looked her usual glowing self on Monday attending the first day of Wimbledon in a polka-dot dress and with a noticeably shorter cut for her glossy locks.

The trip to Poland and German will be another opportunity to glimpse the royal kids in public following several recent public and semi-public events, such as their palace balcony appearance after the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, and their roles as page boy and bridesmaid at the May 20 wedding of their aunt Pippa Middleton.

The Poland/Germany tour is part of an ongoing effort by the British government to use one of its most valuable assets — the British royal family and the Cambridges in particular — to maintain good public relations with European countries as Britain prepares to exit from the European Union over the next two years. In March, Will and Kate went to Paris on their first official visit as a couple, and Will’s first official visit since his mother, the late Princess Diana, died there in a car crash Aug. 31, 1997.

"(The Cambridges) look forward to a busy and impactful tour and are grateful that they will have the opportunity to meet the Polish and German people – such important friends of the United Kingdom – as a family," in the words of the palace statement.

The tour will include the usual menu of opportunities for the royal couple to meet people in business, government and culture at dinners, receptions and parties, with a priority on their specific interest in meeting young entrepreneurs, mental health advocates and "bright young talents in music and the arts."

The tour will acknowledge the complex 20th-century histories of each country, the palace statement said, with visits to a museum dedicated to the 1944 Warsaw uprising, to a Nazi concentration camp, and to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. "At each location, Their Royal Highnesses will meet survivors of these periods who will describe their personal experiences."

They will take in the scenery and architectural marvels of Poland and Germany, wander through parks and the charming market of Gdansk flanked by terracotta houses and cobbled pathways, take part in a rowing race on the Neckar River in Heidelberg, and tour the spectacular Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg.

In Poland, they will tour the Warsaw Rising Museum; visit Stutthof, the first Nazi concentration camp set up outside Germany, and meet former prisoners of the camp; take in the Gdansk Shakespeare Theater; and visit the Gdansk shipyard where they will meet with founding members of the Solidarity Movement.

In Germany, they will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; visit the landmark Brandenburg Gate; meet with people working in mental health and cancer research charities; visit the Heidelberg, where they’ll compete in a rowing competition; and Hamburg, where they will tour one of the largest concert halls in the world, the “Elphi,” opened in January 2017 with the aim of creating a new city landmark.

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Your chance to vote for bridge into Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The City of Charlotte is planning to build a new bridge over I-85 and the city wants you to help choose the design.

From now until the end of June, anyone can vote for one of four possible designs for the bridge listed on the city’s webpage.

The four designs range from one with what appears to be a tree to two with more geometric patterns and one that is very simple with the work "Charlotte" carved into the stone.

Project Manager Dan Leaver said the city wants the bridge to be a gateway to the city because it will be the first thing people see driving south on I-85.

NBC Charlotte showed pictures of the plans to a number of shoppers today at the Park Road Shopping Center.

Everyone liked the idea of getting to vote on the final design but everyone had a different opinion on which design should win.

Katie Stone liked on of the more geometric designs.

"That’s probably the one that is the most eye-catching to me," she said.

On the other hand, Josh Covel liked the one with the tree.

"I like the design, and I like the tree," he said.

Using the link in this story you can vote for your favorite design.

Voting closes on June 30.

© 2017 WCNC.COM

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Prince George and Princess Charlotte steal the show – again- at Queen Elizabeth’s 91st birthday celebration

The British royal family celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s 91st birthday at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony in London on Saturday — but all eyes were on the little Prince George and Princess Charlotte throughout the event.

Once again, the two adorable children of Prince William and Princess Kate stole the show from their famous great grandmother, enthusiastically waving to the crowd and the planes as they streamed above in a red white and blue Royal Air Force flyover.

An excited Prince George and Princess Charlotte could be seen peering out of the Buckingham Palace balcony window before joining great grandmother — "Gan Gan" — and the rest of the royal family on the balcony.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte are seen at Buckingham Palace, attending the annual Trooping the Color Ceremony in London, June 17, 2017.

Princess Kate was dressed in a pink Alexander McQueen dress and Jane Taylor hat, with Charlotte complementing her mother in a floral pink dress.

A major security operation was underway in the British capital following the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester. Snipers were positioned on roofs, with additional security forces on duty and plainclothes officers blending in with the public, as every senior member of the royal family participated in the queen’s official birthday celebration.

Today The Queen and other members of The Royal Family attend Trooping the Colour – The Queen’s birthday parade on Horse Guards Parade.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 17, 2017

The annual Trooping the Colour ceremony took a more somber tone this morning, with a moment of silence and Queen Elizabeth issuing a special message one day after she and Prince William visited the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, and just weeks after the terror attacks in London and Manchester. At least 30 people died in the West London fire, with more fatalities expected to be announced.

The Queen and The Duke of Cambridge also met members of the emergency services at Westway Sports Centre in London.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 16, 2017

"Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood." The Buckingham Palace statement issued by Queen Elizabeth said: "In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies. As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events."

With Prince Philip recently announcing his retirement, this may be one of the last events the Duke of Edinburgh will play such a prominent role. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s carriage led the procession with Prince Harry, Princess Kate and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, following in the second carriage.

Members The Royal Family including The Duchess of Cornwall & The Duchess of Cambridge attend The Trooping at Horse Guards Parade in London.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 17, 2017

Prince William, Royal colonel of the Irish Guards, and Prince Charles rode on horseback with their regiments.

Trooping the Colour dates back to 1748 started by King George II, whose birthday was in November. A decision was made to have an official birthday celebration for the monarch’s birthday during a warmer weather season. Queen Elizabeth’s actual birthday is April 21.

More than 1400 troops and 200 horses took part in the procession, with the monarch inspecting the troops and taking the salute at Horseguards Parade before returning back to Buckingham Place, where the royal family joined Queen Elizabeth on the balcony for the Royal Air Force flypast.

This year’s Trooping the Colour took on special significance, as the country mourned those who recently died and celebrated the heroism of others.

“During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need,” Queen Elizabeth wrote in her message.

Today, the country showed their resilience and paid tribute to their beloved monarch, but also to all of those affected by the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire.

SLIDESHOW: Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 91st birthday

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Bank of America laying off more employees in Charlotte

Bank of America is laying off an undisclosed number of technology workers in Charlotte, the latest job cuts to hit the second-largest U.S. bank.

Employees were notified of the layoffs this week, sources with direct knowledge of the decisions told the Observer on Wednesday. The cuts affect the Charlotte-based bank’s global technology and operations unit, which is headed by executive Cathy Bessant, who also sits in Charlotte.

One technology employee who works in Charlotte said employees notified Tuesday include full-time project managers who oversaw software projects, including testing and upgrades, from start to finish. Bessant oversees a workforce of roughly 95,000 employees and contractors worldwide, including more than 6,500 in Charlotte.

“Like all companies, we are in a changing marketplace, and we must adjust our workforce to meet those needs,” bank spokesman Dan Frahm said in a statement.

Frahm declined to provide the number of employees being laid off, citing company policy. Those affected have been given two weeks’ notice and are eligible for company severance, he said. The employees are also encouraged to apply for other positions at Bank of America, but for those unable to find one, the bank will work closely with them to assist in locating a new role, he said.

The cuts come a week after home-improvement retailer Lowe’s announced layoffs of about 125 corporate tech workers, primarily at its headquarters in Mooresville, amid efforts to improve profitability. Many of the affected information technology job functions are being sent to Bangalore, India, where Lowe’s employs approximately 1,000 people in information and technology and analytics.

Bank of America has trimmed about 75,000 jobs under CEO Brian Moynihan, who has pushed to slash costs at a bank that expanded through decades of acquisitions before he took the helm in January 2010. As of the end of March, it employed 209,000 worldwide, including about 15,000 in Charlotte.

While Bank of America has cited attrition as one factor behind the lower headcount, it has also pointed to efficiency efforts in previous rounds of layoffs affecting technology jobs in Charlotte. Moynihan has been seeking to improve efficiencies under an ongoing program launched in 2014 called Simplify and Improve.

In addition, last July the bank unveiled a new cost-cutting goal to reduce annual noninterest expenses to roughly $53 billion by the end of 2018, compared with about $56.3 billion over the previous 12 months. Bank of America announced the goal in reporting second-quarter earnings that fell as the bank continued to feel the effects of low interest rates.

On Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer Tom Montag said the bank will keep cutting costs even after reaching the $53 billion goal by finding more ways technology can replace people.

“There’s more to do after that,” Montag said at a conference in New York. “How much technology can we do that replaces people? How many things do we have that we can use it? How much big data can we use that helps us target better and not waste our time on certain things?”

Montag said Bank of America will take a closer look at businesses that can be optimized, naming foreign-exchange trading as one example.

Bloomberg News contributed.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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Popular Charlotte pastor resigns

The Rev. Joe Brown, who was one of Charlotte’s most popular preachers for many years, has left Northside Baptist Church, where he became the senior pastor two years ago.

Brown, 68, announced his resignation during the church’s May 28 service, but also told his flock from the pulpit that it wouldn’t become effective until Dec. 31.

That effective date was later moved up to June 1 – the same day the church’s board of deacons met. According to a letter sent to the congregation on Thursday, the board was presented with a recommendation that Brown’s resignation become effective immediately, “which would allow more time for Dr. Brown to focus on his family.”

Brown told the Observer he needs more time to help his wife, who had given up teaching her adult Sunday school class because of her battle with cancer.

“I resigned two Sundays ago, but I offered to stay until the end of the year to help them find a new pastor. I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch,” Brown said Friday. “But they said they had it covered.”

A search committee to find a new pastor has already been mobilized and will update the congregation every week, said the Rev. Steve Goode, who was tapped to be the church’s interim CEO.

In that letter to the congregation, the church announced not only Brown’s June 1 exodus, but also the departures of four other high-profile leaders. Those included Brown’s son, Timothy, who had been a pastor at Northside Baptist, and Tony Fajardo, who will leave as the head of Northside Christian Academy at the end of the current school year.

Joe Brown came out of retirement in 2015 to take the helm at Northside Baptist. His hire was greeted with great fanfare, with the congregation voting “by overwhelming majority,” in the words of the church’s Facebook page, to give him the job.

Brown had previously been pastor for 26 years at Hickory Grove Baptist, which grew during his tenure to become the largest Protestant church in Charlotte and the biggest Southern Baptist church in the Carolinas. Brown was a famous face for years on local Charlotte TV, which aired his popular sermons and services every Sunday morning from 17,000-member Hickory Grove Baptist.

Brown retired in 2011, but agreed to take the post at Northside Baptist four years later.

Northside Baptist has also played a prominent role in the religious history of Charlotte. It was once the city’s largest church. And for a long time, it led conservative campaigns against liquor-by-the-drink, abortion and homosexuality.

By the 1970s, it had grown to 6,400 members and launched Northside Christian Academy. The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the nationally renowned preacher who founded the Moral Majority, spoke at the 1990 funeral of the church’s founding pastor, the Rev. Jack Hudson, a fundamentalist preacher who’d once been a dirt-track racer.

When Brown arrived at Northside Baptist, it had lost many of its members and was trying to rebound.

“I told them when I came that this is not going to be something long-term,” Brown said Friday. “I’d be there two years and help them get into shape to become a healthy church.”

Brown said his son, who had also preached at Northside Baptist, is a professor of theology at Southern Evangelical Seminary. “He decided at this point in his life to go ahead and concentrate on that,” his father said.

The church’s letter also announced the resignation of Andy Williamson, who had been chairman of the board of deacons, and business administrator Pamela Wedding.

Replacing Fajardo as head of Northside Christian Academy will be Van Wade, who is an alumnus, the church’s letter said.

“Everybody decided to leave at the same time,” Joe Brown said. “They didn’t fire any of us.”

Though he has left his job as a full-time pastor, Brown said he is available to fill in as an intern pastor at churches who could use his help.

“I’ve already had calls from guys to fill in.” he said. “My specialty is to go in and apply leadership skills – put the right people in the right jobs.”

And Brown said he has not lost his desire to deliver sermons. “That’ll never change,” he said. “God called me to preach.”

Tim Funk: 704-358-5703, @timfunk

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Which Of These Three Restaurants In Charlotte NC Would Be A Good First Stop?

Charlotte, North Carolina is a city we have been to recently. There were some great restaurants we visited last time, and there are going to be some great ones this time around. Are you ready? I’ll tell you what, I am, and I am certainly going to select some nice establishments. Here we go guys, but don’t get hung up on my first Charlotte NC restaurant pick because there will be two more.

The first restaurant is going to be 300 East, and it should be simple enough to find since it is on 300 East Boulevard. What kinds of food do they serve? One menu highlight is very intriguing, sweet potato ravioli. Have you ever heard of anything like that? Just the other day, I noticed corn ravioli on a menu highlight but not sweet potato. Okay it is time to go to another restaurant now.

Dresslers Restaurant is located on Metropolitan Avenue, and it is serving up lamb, halibut and crab cakes for starters. Then you have a very delicious looking cheesecake for dessert. That is enough of the menu to make me want to enjoy a meal there, what about you? Now guys, we have one more establishment to visit, and then I will tell you the place I would visit first if I were you.

I forgot to mention that the last place provides live music at times, and you can also dine outside. Almost out of time, so the last Charlotte restaurant is Tupelo Honey Cafe on South Boulevard. It serves up delicious brunch, and you are talking about blueberry jam, biscuits, and wait, I am already drooling. Tupelo Honey Cafe would be my first stop in Charlotte NC. Do you think the same thing, or would you rather be stopping at one of the other two places first?

Storms knock out power northwest of Charlotte

Nearly 4,000 Duke Energy customers are without power near Mountain Island Lake Sunday afternoon, following rain and storms around Charlotte.

One outage is affecting about 2,000 customers northwest of Mount Holly, and more than 1,500 additional customers are without power on the other side of the Catawba River, Duke Energy’s outage map shows.

Duke Energy has confirmed that the cause of the smaller outage is fallen trees or tree limbs.

Rainy weather around Charlotte may continue through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Cabarrus and Rowan counties were under a flood advisory from the National Weather Service Sunday evening. Union County residents were warned to look out for very heavy rain and avoid flooded roads.

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A tree-killing insect that has devastated eastern forests is confirmed in Charlotte

An invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees across the U.S. has arrived in Charlotte, a city official said Tuesday.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in North Carolina in 2013 after invading most other eastern states. It was a matter of time before the metallic green beetle appeared in Charlotte, experts told the Observer earlier this spring.

The ash borer appeared to have killed trees at a commercial development near South Tryon Street and Billy Graham Parkway, Heartwood Tree Service owner Patrick George reported last week.

Assistant city arborist Laurie Reid Dukes, who is an entomologist, collected specimens of the insect at the site. They’ve been sent for confirmation by the federal government, but Duke’s said she’s sure of her identification.

The N.C. Forest Service has already updated its map of confirmed locations of the insect to include Mecklenburg County. Trees in Gaston, Lincoln, Catawba and Iredell counties, west and north of the city, have already been attacked.

“My guess is they’ve been here about two years,” Duke said, the time that it typically takes the insect to fully kill trees.

Charlotte’s landscape management office has full information, including how to detect infestations, on its emerald ash borer page online. The city estimates 1,300 ash trees line Charlotte streets.

Signs of an infestation start with loss of leaves at the top of the tree. Other clues include tunnels under the tree’s bark where larvae have fed. Sprouts, a defensive response by the tree, often emerge from the base of the trunk.

Experts compare the beetle’s lethal potential to the blight that wiped out chestnut trees a century ago and to the insect that is now steadily killing hemlocks across the Southern Appalachian mountains.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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