While 2017 felt like an atomic bomb of negativity from a state, national and international perspective, Matthews and Mint Hill seemed to be shielded from much of the fallout.
Here’s a look at people that made the year memorable.
• Ann Clark – Clark retired as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools with two major accomplishments this year, getting a $922 million bond referendum on the ballot and rolling out a re-assignment plan that affects 75 schools.
• Kandi Deitemeyer – Deitemeyer arrived as president of Central Piedmont Community College in January. She helped break ground for a new building at the Levine Campus in Matthews, which will house the Georgia Tucker Fine Arts Hall.
• Landon Dunn – Dunn chaired the Mayoral Task Force on Education, which examined options for Matthews to maintain neighborhood schools. One of the group’s most innovative ideas was a charter school campus with each school having a theme.
• Krystil Irvin – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recognized the Matthews resident as the East Learning Community Teacher of the Year for her work at Crestdale Middle School.
• Katherine MacConnachie – MacConnachie was named the best teacher assistant in CMS’s East Learning Community. She was recognized for her work with exceptional children at Crestdale Middle School.
• Christy Morrin – Morrin serves as principal of Matthews Charter Academy, which dedicated its new building in January. It includes 28 classrooms, a gym and a media center.
• Jennifer Schroeder – After a few years of service at Ardrey Kell High School, CMS promoted Schroeder to principal at Crestdale Middle School in January.
• Sean Strain – Strain, an advocate for neighborhood schools, defeated Allen Smith to win Paul Bailey’s District 6 seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education in November.
• Ericia Turner – Turner earned Principal of the Year honors for the East Learning Community in part by improving the academic and behavioral culture at Rocky River High School.
• Clayton Wilcox – Wilcox succeeded Ann Clark as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, bringing a more personable tone to stakeholders. He sought to improve the school choice process.
• Lloyd Austin – There was a time when Austin was the leading vote-getter in Mint Hill commission races, but he fell out of favor with voters in 2015. He tried to return to the board in 2017, but fell 412 votes shy.
• Paul Bailey – After serving four years on the school board, Bailey sought a return to town politics. He ran for mayor, winning with 59 percent of the vote.
• Ted Biggers – Mint Hill residents gave Biggers an 11th term as mayor, making him the longest tenured mayor in Mecklenburg County right now.
• Mike Cochrane – After 38 years in banking, 35 of which were spent in Mint Hill, Cochrane ran for office. He became the newest face on the Mint Hill Board of Commissioners.
• Barbara Dement – Dement was the newest face elected to the Matthews Board of
Commissioners. The planning board chairwoman was the second-highest vote-getter.
• Kress Query – Query, a walking encyclopedia of Matthews, won a seat as town commissioner, adding to a political legacy that includes mayor (1969 to 1974) and commissioner (1993 to 2015).
• Larry Whitley – Whitley, pastor of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, opted to run for mayor instead of a second term on the town commission. Whitley said Matthews was represented for some people, but not all people.
• Chris Melton, Jeff Miller and John Urban – The trio of Matthews commissioners convinced voters that experience matters, earning additional terms on the board.
• Norah Burke, Allen Crosby, Sebastian Feculak and Dimple Shah – This fantastic four ran for the Matthews Board of Commissioners, but each could only muster 7 or 8 percent of the vote in a 10-person race.
• Eric Random and Alonzo Grier – These Mint Hill residents ran for town commissioner, but each commanded just 5 percent of the vote.
• Dale Dalton, Richard Newton and Tina Ross – This trio won another term on the Mint Hill Board of Commissioners. Ross has served since 2003, Newton since 2013 and Dalton since 2015.
• Bill Brawley – Brawley sponsored 19 bills during the 2017-18 session of the N.C. House of Representatives, including one making it easier for the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to form charter schools. Another bill creates a study on splitting large school districts.
• Mickey Ellington – Ellington, president of Ellington Funeral Services, decided to put his political career to rest after serving as a Mint Hill commissioner since 1998. The town sent him off with a montage of photos set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
• John Higdon – Higdon showed in his second term as Matthews commissioner that he wasn’t a fence-straddler. He often took bold stands like when he opposed the superstreet design along East John Street.
• Bill James – James, serving in his 11th term as county commissioner, represented Matthews and Mint Hill on issues ranging from police service in unincorporated areas to determining whether to support pro soccer.
• Robert Pittenger – Congressman Pittenger tried to build public support for an idea to turn U.S. 74 into an interstate, which would make commutes from Charlotte to Wilmington much faster. He also pushed for the Charlotte area to have its own National Weather Service station.
• Jim Taylor – The Matthews mayor decided his fourth term would be his last, taking pride in 18 years of elected service, capped by the opening of Sportsplex at Matthews.
• Michelle Archer – Matthews Police Chief Rob Hunter promoted Archer to the rank of sergeant, after years in patrol and as a school resource officer. Commissioner Larry Whitley said he was proud to see minorities move up the ranks of the department.
• Hazen Blodgett – The Matthews town manager proposed a 2017-18 fiscal year budget of $21.5 million that added four new employees and 3 percent performance-based salary pool with no tax increases. He also guided elected leaders through discussions with the N.C. Department of Transportation over the East John Street widening.
• Scott Cole – The NCDOT engineer made trips to Matthews, Indian Trail and Stallings to answer questions and assure residents that superstreets were a safer, more efficient means to moving people along highways.
• Dena Diorio – Diorio made national news when the county refused to pay a ransom after hackers hijacked some of its data. The county manager also recommended a budget that didn’t increase property taxes, while seeking to increase access to county services through the formation of community resource centers.
• Rob Hunter – Hunter retired as Matthews Police Chief in October, a role he’s held since 1993. Town Manager Hazen Blodgett credited Hunter for building the police department from the ground up.
• Lee Anne Moore – Moore had the huge task of overseeing the 25th annual Matthews Alive Festival during Labor Day weekend. The festival proved to be a smash, raising a record $141,207 for nearly 40 charities.
• CJ O’Neill – O’Neill has had a busy year as public works director, especially with all of the construction projects being developed in partnership with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
• Clark Pennington – The Town of Matthews announced that Pennington would be succeeding Rob Hunter in December as police chief. The Army veteran comes from a force in Frederick, Maryland.
• Marcus Plescia – Plescia came to the county health department with incredible credentials, but he resigned Aug. 4 after getting negative press coverage. It didn’t help that his department failed to notify dozens of women about abnormal Pap smear results.
• Brian Welch – Welch entered his 10th year as Mint Hill town manager. Welch proposed a 2017-18 budget of $12.5 million with no tax increase.
• Sandy Barnett – Barnett left her post of executive director of the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce to take a marketing position with Pine Lake Country Club. She led the chamber for 11 years.
• Kelly Barnhardt – Aside from ribbon cuttings and expos, Barnhardt introduced a Women in Business Program at the Matthews Chamber of Commerce. The chamber also held a candidates forum for town elections.
• Roland Bibeau – Bibeau serves as president of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center, which donates time and resources to community events, such as Matthews Alive and Festival of Trees.
• Tony and Sarah Brock – The Brocks tapped into the region’s craft beer craze by opening Pour 64 in downtown Mint Hill. It’s a destination for beer fans that like trying different breweries.
• Laura Budd – Budd won Best Attorney honors in the Best of the Weeklies. She also won a rezoning that allows her to redevelop property at 352 E. Charles St. Then came the rebranding of her practice to Weaver Budd Attorneys at Law.
• Eric Fairbanks – When Matthews-Mint Hill caught up with Fairbanks in May, he owned 11 Hungry Howies franchises and had plans to expand that to 17 stores in 2018. Hard to believe he began his empire in 2005 at the Sardis Crossing shopping center.
• John and Martha Fisichello – The couple’s Mario’s Italian Restaurant won Best Italian Restaurant in the Best of the Weeklies readers choice vote. The Fisichellos also raised money for a young boy with a rare genetic disease.
• Paige McKinney – McKinney took the reins of the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce this year with hopes of increasing programming for women and improving its social media presence.
• Donald and Caroline Naysmith – The couple bought the Morris barn on West Charles Street, which angered folks that wanted the Town of Matthews or Matthews Historical Foundation to preserve it.
• Ernesto Reina – The 23-year-old has grown his Jolly Rolls rolled ice cream concept from his garage to multiple storefronts in the Charlotte region. He opened his Matthews store in April.
• Richard Siskey – Siskey killed himself at the end of 2016 after the FBI began investigating his business dealings. Later in 2017, the Siskey YMCA became the Brace Family YMCA.
• Sherry Taylor – Taylor joined the Pine Lake Country Club in August. The club showcased renovations and updates this year that didn’t detract from its rural nature.
• Andrew Byrd & Randy Briscoe – The pastors merged their churches (Mint Hill Community Church and Garr Church) to form Greater Life Church on Mother’s Day. They won approval from Mint Hill to build a new place of worship on nine acres off Matthews-Mint Hill Road.
• Kelly Brooks – Brooks led SHARE Charlotte in raising $7 million for charities through the #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign. Several area charities were involved, including Bright Blessings, Matthews Playhouse and YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
• Alex Kennedy – Kennedy, senior pastor at Carmel Baptist Church, ushered in a new three-story discipleship center and gym that would be used for Carmel Christian School.
• Natisha Rivera-Patrick – Rivera-Patrick took over as executive director for the Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity, which continued to provide affordable and decent housing to families in Matthews, Mint Hill and Stallings. The charity began building its 107th home in December.
• Nate Huggins – Readers chose Blessed Assurance Adult Day Care as Best Assisted Living facility in the Best of the Weeklies reader choice awards. Huggins continued to get help entertaining and assisting seniors from the likes of Charlotte Catholic School and Elevation Church.
• Adhvik Pradeep – The Matthews kindergartner collected 300 books for the WAXN-TV’s 64U Books for Kids Drive to help other kids develop a love for reading.
• Amy Carr, Sue Sproat & Kaye McHan – The leaders of COSKids, Matthews Free Medical Clinic and Matthews Help Center pooled their resources together to maximize support for people in need. The Greater Matthews Local Family Network is what they called the alliance.
• Sarah Billiard – Billiard excelled at Covenant Day in volleyball, basketball and track & field (high jump). Last month, the Virginia standout made the ACC All-Freshman Team for volleyball.
• Devon Dotson – The Providence Day point guard announced he would play basketball for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks in 2018. Dotson came into the season nationally ranked, having averaged 24 points a game last year.
• Riley Ferguson – People around here remember Ferguson as a state championship quarterback for Butler. People elsewhere know him as the QB who threw six touchdowns to lead the Memphis Tigers in an upset over No. 25 UCLA.
• Dillon Gooch – Gooch held the Carmel Christian boys’ tennis team to its second state championship. He also won all-conference and all-state honors.
• Orlando Gray – Gray took over the Rocky River Ravens football program in the spring. The squad posted a 2-9 record in the fall.
• Brian Hales – Hales returned to coach Butler football to a sixth conference title. The Bulldogs lost to Myers Park in the second round of the state playoffs to end the 2017 season with a 8-3 record.
• David Houseton – The Covenant Day baseball coach earned a spot on the Team USA development squad, giving him a chance to work with some of the country’s top 14-year-olds.
• Dan Kerr – Queen’s Grant athletics director and baseball coach Dan Kerr was proud to debut the school’s new baseball field in March. The field took a lot of hard work on his part and support from the community.
• Xavier Lanear – Lanear graduated from Independence in the spring with a state wrestling title (220-pound weight class) with a 47-0 record. He played football in the fall with NC Central University.
• Kenya Livingston – Livingston’s legend continues to grow by leaps and bounds. She has competed internationally in the high jump and won multiple Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly Athlete of the Year awards.
• Alina McCue – McCue certainly put up numbers at Covenant Day to become Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly’s Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year, but she also had a compelling story and perspective. The college freshman plays for the Mercer Bears soccer team.
• Jim McPhilliamy – The business exec’s Charlotte Independence began playing games at the newly minted Sportsplex at Matthews and discussed the possibility to moving to American Legion Memorial Stadium, near Uptown Charlotte.
• Mike Natoli – The Independence football coach opening lured Natoli from Statesville Christian, where he served as offensive coordinator. Natoli, the team’s fourth coach in five years, led the Patriots to a 4-9 record.
• Farrell O’Quinn – O’Quinn coached the Covenant Day cross country team to its first state championship in October. The top five scorers in the final meet were all underclassman, too.
• Chris Satterfield – The N.C. Athletic Directors Association presented the Butler athletics director with its Braveheart Award for overcoming an injury suffered during a dodgeball game. He also endured debilitating health issues in youth. He now helps student-athletes reach their potential.
• Jaylon Sharpe – Rocky River only won two football games this season, but junior linebacker Jaylon Sharpe had a great year, as he was voted top defensive player by Southwestern Conference coaches.
• Travis Snell – Snell not only maintained a 4.0 grade point average, but he also played four sports at Mint Hill Middle School – all while living with Type 1 diabetes.
• Andrew Stark – Stark returned to Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly to serve as sports editor while battling cancer. The community raised at least $11,000 for the Matthews resident through a YouCaring.com campaign.
• June Bayless – The Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts brought productions, such as “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Cinderella” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” to the stage this year. Bayless founded the organization.
• Lyla Chaudhary – The 7-year-old died in a car wreck June 30 off Sam Newell Road, prompting more than 2,700 people to sign a petition to add a guardrail there. Crown Point Elementary School released 120 balloon on her birthday, Dec. 15.
• Becky Griffin – The executive director of the Mint Hill Historical Society unveiled a plaque in the Carl J. McEwen Historic Village after the landmark’s namesake. She continued to promote town history at events throughout the year.
• Paula Lester – Lester serves as president of the Matthews Historical Foundation, which owns the Matthews Heritage Museum and Reid House. Both won awards through Best of the Weeklies voting.
• Romie Mizell – Mizell may have stepped down as president of Mint Hill Arts, but he’s continued to stay involved in the arts community by showcasing his work. Mint Hill Arts offered Romie and his wife, Judy, lifetime membership.
• David and Shelly Shaeffer – The Shaeffers convinced Mint Hill leaders to change town ordinances to allow pygmy goats in smaller neighborhoods. They did not have to give up their beloved Friendly and Fennekin.
• Klaus Siebert – Siebert was rewarded for years of service in the Marines, Army, Air Force and JROTC education by serving as grand marshal of the Mint Hill Madness Parade.
• Barbara Taylor – Taylor continued to bring quirky exhibits to the Matthews Heritage Museum, including widgets and thingamajigs, as well as toys from decades past.
• Pauline Wood – As market manager, Pauline Wood ushered in expanded space for tailgate vendors and new features at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market.
• Renee Garner & Aana Lisa Whatley – Garner and Whatley were among a core group of Matthews residents putting pressure on town commissioners to ensure the John Street corridor be preserved from a state highway-widening project.
Who was snubbed?
Was there someone you think should have made the list? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know. We may publish responses in an upcoming edition.