Arts & Entertainment
June Bayless: The pandemic may have ended in-person performances by the Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts, but her nonprofit continued to entertain online audiences with virtual performances and entertainment.
Derek James: Clips of the “WCCB News Rising” host’s snarky takes on pop culture appeared on national television shows. The Matthews resident also took time from his schedule to support local causes, like the Charlotte Nativity Festival.
Lee Anne Moore: She announced in May that the Matthews Alive Labor Day festival was canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns.
Nanda Jayaseelan: She won the Great Trans-Atlantic Photography Contest with her entry, “Artist in Residence,” which captures a child decorating a tree trunk with a piece of blue chalk.
Chris Melton: The former Matthews commissioner volunteered with WDZD 99.1, a nonprofit in Monroe that won Radio Station of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Awards.
Dan Peterson: He created a table out of the remnants of a tree that was downed by a tornado at the Matthews HELP Center. The artwork took him 20 to 30 hours to complete.
Dillon Smith: The Noble Records owner created a niche on YouTube for fans of vinyl records and music in general. Some of his videos have been viewed more than 50,000 times.
Sheryl Smith: She announced Mint Hill Madness would be postponed from May to August due to COVID-19, but the event was ultimately canceled due to concerns about community spread.
Jennifer Adams: She opened Central Bark, a 7,000-square-foot doggy daycare, Aug. 27 near the Matthews-Charlotte border. The former banker was drawn to the franchise’s Whole Dog Care philosophy.
Jason Bernd: Novant Health promoted him to succeed Roland Bibeau as president and chief operating officer of its Matthews hospital. Bernd presided over the hospital’s annual Festival of Trees celebration – though it was a virtual event this year.
Roland Bibeau: He ended his 12-year run as president and chief operating officer at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center by earning a key to the town. Under his watch, the hospital expanded intensive and critical care services, as well as added more specialized care for cardiac and female patients.
Collin Brown: Brown represented Cypress Senior Living in a rezoning case that promised to bring a new form of senior living to Matthews. The concept involved unbundling services for a projected 128 apartment units, allowing for more affordable rates.
Michelle Buelow: Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, her company, Bella Tunno, continued to give back through its Buy One, Feed One campaign. It donated more than 100,000 meals to people affected by wildfires in the Northwest.
Whitleigh Cook: The former Carolina Panthers cheerleader not only celebrated the 10th anniversary of Mint Hill Dance Center, but her business also won Best Dance Studio in Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly’s Best of the Weekly readers choice campaign.
Kimberly Gossage: Charlotte Media Group recognized the attorney for her community impact in January. As board of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, she explained to town leaders how local businesses were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dimitrios Hondro: The Matthews physician was voted by his peers to lead the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians. His goal for the coming year is to support and provide a soundboard for family physicians in his industry.
Joel Madden: The municipal infrastructure specialist was a key cog in a team that secured a contract in September with Mint Hill to update the town’s comprehensive plan. Town commissioners thought the team’s knowledge of Mint Hill would help in planning smart growth.
Rob & Kim McClintock: The couple received Charlotte Media Group’s Small Business Person of the Year Award in January for not only growing McClintock Heating & Cooling into a regional HVAC leader, but also working to educate current and future employees about the industry.
Steve Messer: He said the decision to rename Plantation Estates to Matthews Glen “is representative of the values we have always stood for and our larger commitment to be recognized as an open, inclusive and diverse community.”
Nicholas Parker: The president of Amicus Partners PLLC convinced Mint Hill commissioners to approve rezoning for McEwen Manor, a 166-house neighborhood fronting Lawyers Road. It would capitalize on the ability to walk to downtown.
Jessica Tullar: She took over as executive director of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, which organized activities like the Hometown Holiday Scavenger Hunt to get people returning to local businesses.
Arden Boyle: The Independence High School alum organized a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June at Mint Hill Town Hall after attending a similar rally in Waxhaw. Several such rallies were held following the death of George Floyd.
Chi-Liam Cody Brown-Erickson: The Matthews Police Department issued an Amber Alert for the infant on Feb. 21, but Charlotte police found the 6-month-old boy’s body soon after at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte.
Gina Coque: She not only valedictorian of Rocky River High School but she got into Yale University. The first-generation college student is passionate about immigration reform. Both of her parents were immigrants.
Iris DeVore: The community servant passed away in November. She was instrumental in creating The Happy Times Club, Matthews HELP Center and Levine Senior Club.
Carrie Flock: The retired professional boxer spent the latter part of 2020 training for a new title – Ms NC Americas United States. She hoped to represent Mint Hill with a pageant platform of mentoring girls and women.
Katherine Greene: The Covenant Day senior was honored at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for “Katie’s Kidz,” which has collected and donated more than 50,000 gifts for hospitalized children since 2007.
Camille Harvell: The Butler High School grad said during a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Matthews Town Hall that she didn’t feel safe when she looked at members of the town police department. She encouraged white people to become allies.
Sherry Liu: The Providence High student launched a mentoring program, Peer2Peer. The free online tutoring program connected students to mentors when support at school wasn’t available.
Tim Marshall Sr.: Marshall attended a Black Lives Matter rally in June at Mint Hill Town Hall and had a passionate exchange with Mayor Brad Simmons about police reform. The four-minute clip was viewed thousands of times on our Facebook page.
Adhvik Pradeep: Inspired by “Shark Tank,” the 9-year-old created a produce and plant stand in his Matthews neighborhood that attracted other young entrepreneurs. He donated a percentage of sales to No Kid Hungry North Carolina.
Bill Stevens: He chaired the Matthews Silver Line Task Force, a citizens group that pored over data to suggest an ideal route for Charlotte Area Transit System to construct a light rail route from Charlotte to Matthews.
Greg & Elizabeth Thomas: The couple decorated their Heritage Woods home for Halloween with Star Wars characters, such as Jabba the Hutt, Baby Yoda, Darth Maul and Han Solo in carbonite. It may be the greatest Star Wars display in the galaxy.
Joey Burch: He retired after six years as principal at Levine Middle College High School, but his impact was felt deeper at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where he had worked for more than four decades.
Penelope Crisp: She took over as principal of Matthews Elementary School after serving the same role within three elementary schools: Lansdowne (2014-2020), Clear Creek (2010-2012) and Torrence Creek (2008-2010)
Elyse Dashew: She presided over several emergency school board meetings to decide whether schools should be opened or closed due to the fluid conditions of community spread of COVID-19. The board favored keeping kids at home.
Dennis LaCaria: He represented Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during discussions with Mint Hill commissioners and the planning board to begin construction on an elementary school on the Mint Hill Middle School campus in 2021.
Wil Loesel: The Albemarle Road Middle School educator continued to teach from his hospital bed while fighting cancer, earning his national recognition, including from daytime TV host Ellen DeGeneres.
Rhiannon Polite: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools promoted the assistant principal at Northeast Middle School in February to the principal vacancy at Lebanon Road Elementary.
Bob Sorrell: He had the annual chore of asking town commissioners, on behalf of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for an extension to keep the nine extra mobile units at Elizabeth Lane Elementary School on campus for another year.
Sean Strain: The area representative on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education pressed administrators to get students back into the classroom as soon as possible. Strain reasoned that time outside of the classroom could be detrimental to children’s growth.
Josh Swartzlander: Queens Grant High School made news across the region for installing a UV light system to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Jenna Tomlinson: The Butler history educator earned Southeast Learning Community Teacher of the Year honors. This made her a finalist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year.
Ericia Turner: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recognized her as Principal of the Year. Turner has led Rocky River High School since 2016. She gave 2020 graduates rocks to remind them they were strong, stable and able to survive.
Earnest Winston: As superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Winston faced scrutiny during the pandemic from parents wanting their children back in classrooms and from staff preferring to work remotely.
Mumukshu Brahmbhatt: MB brought together community leaders, including three mayors past and present, to raise $100,000 for the Matthews HELP Center in a campaign called Matthews Helping Matthews.
Andrew Byrd: The lead pastor at Greater Life Church filmed heartfelt video while battling COVID-19. He eventually recovered.
Sandra Conway: Her nonprofit, Matthews HELP Center, saw increased demand for crisis services, such as help paying utility and housing bills. The charity received a $100,000 boost from the Matthews Helping Matthews community campaign.
Bill Helms: He chaired the Matthews Human Service Council board of directors as the group celebrated its 25th year. Helms also provided strategic guidance to the Matthews Historical Foundation.
Dahn Jenkins: The Levine Senior Center started providing weekly drive-by meals in April to boost the morale of older adults during the pandemic. Staff planned a Drive By Holiday Meal and Care Package Event, too.
Jason Michel: The Matthews congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomed him as the new bishop. He replaced Jesse Conn. He described himself as a “cog in the wheel of the church”
John Munro: The Calvary Church senior pastor was one of several in the area to adapt to weekly sermons going virtual. He told those watching in April they were among viewers from 30 countries around the world.
Ben Pinegar: The Brace YMCA leader appealed to Matthews commissioners for more flexibility with its property since the campus was losing seven acres of field space to a N.C. Department of Transportation road project at the Weddington Road and I-485 interchange.
Natisha Rivera-Patrick: Her organization, Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity, dedicated its 113th home, which was the first two-story house in the charity’s history. She launched the Affordable Housing Alliance, a group of community partners working toward more affordable housing.
Kim Rhodarmer: She saw a surge in demand for crisis support during the pandemic as executive director at The Servant’s Heart of Mint Hill.
Sue Sproat: The executive director for C.O.S.Kids earned the Nancy Glenn Community Servant Award for her leadership following a tornado and the COVID-19 pandemic. She raised the childcare agency’s profile nationally, too.
Barbara Taylor: The Matthews Heritage Museum director helped solve the mystery of gravestones found in the Crestdale Crossing neighborhood.
Mark Tofano: The Matthews resident assumed command of the Hooks Orr American Legion Post 235. The post restored the veterans memorial at Stumptown Park and maintained many of the group’s traditional programs in spite of the pandemic.
Chuck Wilson: His friendship with the Rev. Larry Whitley and the collaboration between their churches was the subject of a WSOC programming about improving race relations within the Charlotte region.
David Andrews: His restaurant, The Hill Bar and Grill, won Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly’s Munch Madness: Road to the Final Fork bracket challenge. It shut down March 21 due to COVID-19 concerns and reopened on April 24.
Jay Camp: The Matthews planning director vetted a proposal to allow temporary outdoor seating in downtown so businesses can be more competitive during mass gathering restrictions.
Justin Haas & Justin Hayes: The pair was not fazed by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on area businesses as they opened Fullwood Market in September. The shop specializes in goods made in the Carolinas.
Rob Jacik: The downtown Matthews supporter merged Carolina Beer Temple and Temple Mojo into one location, retaining the temple name.
Bob Klein: The Stumptown Station owner sought help from Matthews leaders to save his business after Gov. Roy Cooper’s enacted restrictions that hurt bars.
Frank La Fragola Jr.: A managing partner of Jekyll & Hyde in Matthews, he encouraged town commissioners to support local businesses at a time when the county proposed stricter COIVD-19 restrictions than the state.
Kevin Nelson: The Mint Hill resident took over as owner of Black Chicken Wine Cellar in Matthews. He didn’t envision a complete overall, just some tweaks to the downtown wine spot. The restaurant was renamed the Matthews Wine Cellar.
Steven Overcash: The principal of ODA Architecture pitched the idea to Mint Hill commissioners to open a brewery tap room in downtown. The project prompted discussion about whether the town needed to regulate the use to prevent oversaturation.
Chis Sottile: His business, The Loyalist Market, supplied meals to children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Union County Public Schools during the early days of COVID-19. He raised more than $41,000 through GoFundMe for the effort.
Bill Brawley: Bill Brawley touted some of his legislative victories in a bid to return to the District 103 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives, but the Matthews resident couldn’t overcome incumbent Rachel Hunt in the November election.
Roy Cooper: The governor issued a series of restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 that closed schools and businesses. He verbally sparred with President Trump over the crowd size inside the Republican National Convention in Charlotte. He was reelected in November.
Barbara Dement: Three months after winning a second term on the Matthews Board of Commissioners, Dement resigned from her seat, citing professional responsibilities.
Renee Garner: The Matthews mayor pro tem played a role in smoothing over friction with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over House Bill 514. She also called for more training and transparency within the Matthews Police Department following the death of George Floyd.
John Higdon: The Matthews mayor led the effort to improve town relations with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools by committing not to build charter schools. He also was vocal about separating from Mecklenburg County’s harsher COVID-19 restrictions in an attempt to provide relief to businesses.
Rachel Hunt: After earning a second term in the November election, the state lawmaker was receptive toward Matthews town leaders’ legislative agenda, which sought more local authority and less state overreaching.
Jeff Jackson: The N.C. senator handed over the reigns to his reelection campaign to his wife, Marissa Jackson, after the Army National Guard captain was called in for training.
Ken McCool: He was appointed to replace Barbara Dement on the Matthews Board of Commissioners. McCool called out Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in July for leaving many of the questions he and his colleagues had about the district’s Plan B-Plus Remote reopening unanswered.
Jeff Miller: The Matthews commissioner generally supported measures that would help local businesses cope amid COVID-19 restrictions. He offered a specific proposal to support downtown businesses by organizing block parties.
Susan Rodriguez-McDowell: The Democrat won a second term on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. She recently met with Matthews commissioners to get feedback on how she can best represent them.
Brad Simmons: The Mint Hill mayor increased his communication with the public beginning in the early days of COVID-19, encouraging them to stay at home. He made progress on goals such as streaming meetings online and updating the town’s comprehensive plan.
John Urban: The Matthews commissioner spoke of the urgency in securing a long-term lease for the Matthews Free Medical Clinic.
Larry Whitley: The Matthews commissioner continued to call for the need for more diversity among town staff. He wanted to see police officers go through diversity training to ensure no one on patrol hates black people.
Hazen Blodgett: The town manager sought a 3% raise for town staff after Matthews appeared to have a much stronger budget year-to-date compared to 2019 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. He attributed that to conservative budgeting.
Dena Diorio: The Mecklenburg County manager has not only focused on preventing and stopping the spread of COVID-19, but she’s also worked on recovery. She formed a round table of business leaders to get creative ideas.
Gibbie Harris: The Mecklenburg County public health director became a household name locally as she presided over press conferences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She would not approve of situations in which restaurants or bars could not enforce social distancing.
Corey King: He leads the Matthews Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resource Department, which altered some of its popular programming to fit with state restrictions on gatherings. King also gauged town commissioners’ feelings on recruiting sponsors to stretch the budget for a future dog park.
Rob Kinniburgh: The Matthews Fire & EMS chief has had daily contact with emergency personnel across Mecklenburg County about COVID-19. He shared monthly updates on coronavirus at town commissioner meetings.
Tim Ledford: The Mint Hill police chief retired this month. He has led the department since 2008. During his tenure, he worked to ensure officers were approachable.
Chris Matthews: The county park and recreation division director of nature preserves and natural resources talked about the fall opening of the Stevens Creek Nature Center. The Mint Hill attraction is the county’s fourth nature preserve.
Andy Mock: He served as senior project manager for the Charlotte Area Transit System’s LYNX Silver Line, a project connecting Charlotte and Matthews through 26 miles of light rail. He was the Charlotte Area Transit System’s point man to interact with the community.
Clark Pennington: The Matthews police chief worked to restore local trust between his department and the community following the death of George Floyd. He also pursued grants to reduce collisions on major highways.
Brian Welch: The Mint Hill town manager continued the tradition of conservative spending mid-year when he recommended a general fund of $19.7 million that kept the tax rate at 0.255 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Laura Budd: She served as president-elect of the Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association, which kicked off baseball and softball seasons in June with some extra safety precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Cierra Burdick: The Butler Bulldogs basketball legend returned to the WNBA, signing a contract in July with the Las Vegas Aces.
Jonny Sinclair: He started the Matthews Mavericks to provide free soccer for children. “It’s all about enjoying the sport,” he told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly in July.
Dianne & Jan Spence: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools named the tennis courts at Independence High School after the athletic supporters. Dianne taught math. Jan was a security associate.
Jack Tocho: The Independence High School alum played cornerback for the LA Wildcats until the XFL folded in the spring. He returned home to speak at a social justice rally at Mint Hill Town Hall.