The county is hiring for several positions, including library aide, IT programmers, vendor managers, social workers, nurses, maintenance and operations assistants, and more.

Watch Cam Newton in funny Gatorade commercials, his "Huddle Up" web series for Under Armor, and even a comic book.

The SEC Network is making an historic debut, available in 75 million households, and in terms of projected revenue, it's the fifth-largest sports network in the country.

I could say, "the time has finally come" but it's more like, "man that got here quick" -- the grand opening of Charlotte Premium Outlets.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Six months to the day after announcing that the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament would remain in Charlotte for the next six years, conference officials and their partners are holding their next press conference, themed as "New Day-New Event." The press event will take place Wednesday, September 3 at 1:45 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena, and the public will be able to watch it via live stream at

The press conference will provide updates on the weeklong tournament, which in 2015 will take place February 23-28, giving more details on the new partnership between the CIAA, City of Charlotte, and the Charlotte Hornets. CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Trevor Fuller, Hornets President Fred Whitfield, and CRVA CEO Tom Murray are scheduled to speak, discussing topics such as tournament ticket sales, hotel availability, VIP experiences in Time Warner Cable Arena, and official CIAA events, according to the press release I received.

Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective

In 2014, the CIAA Tournament completed its 69th year, with Charlotte being its home for the last nine years, and during its time here has experienced phenomenal growth. The weeklong festivities, which in addition to the 20-plus college basketball games held over several days between the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, are highlighted by the more than 200 parties and social events that go on that week, mostly unaffiliated with the CIAA but put on by independent party promoters and event planners. The events draw tens of thousands of visitors to Charlotte that week, including dozens of celebrities, and has close to a $50 million economic impact on the city annually.

The Charlotte Post published an article in July that said Bojangles' Coliseum could become a second site for the basketball tournament, specifically that the first two days of games, which are usually poorly attended, would be held there, while the Thursday-Saturday games, which typically get great attendance, would continue at Time Warner Cable Arena. I think that makes sense from a logistical standpoint, but the downside is that for those two days it would move the games away from Uptown, which is the center of all the CIAA-related action. One of the great things about the tournament's location, as it has been the last several years, is that you can park in Uptown (or take the light rail there) and walk to everything--the arena, convention center, hotels, and the majority of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

Another issue of contention for the CIAA is control over hotel rooms. Its commissioner has stated in the past that they want to receive contracts for large blocks of rooms at many Charlotte hotels so that they can better serve their fans, alumni, teams, and partners. If granted, it would be similar to what the Democratic National Convention had in 2012, which would allow them to handle room reservations and then turn over any remaining rooms back to the hotels by a specified date. This would also help prevent price gouging that tends to go on in regards to hotel room rates that week. February/early March is a slow time for hotels here, but the week of the CIAA Tournament often sees rooms go for two or three times the normal rates, and they still tend to sell out.

Founded in 1912, the CIAA is the nation's first African-American athletic conference, and it represents rich tradition and history for African-Americans who have graduated from its colleges and played on its sports teams over the last 100 years. Some students are now the third or fourth generation in their family to attend a CIAA school, dating back to a time when blacks were denied admission to most colleges in this country. Today's 12 CIAA schools are: Bowie State University, Chowan University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine's University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Winston-Salem State University. 

You can keep up with the CIAA on social media:,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

​Whether unemployed or unhappy with the job you currently have, you (or someone you know) are probably looking for work. Well, put your suit in the cleaners, print copies of your resume, and get ready for this upcoming opportunity. Mecklenburg County is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, September 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Grady Cole Center (310 N. Kings Dr.).

The county is hiring for several positions, including library aide and assistant, IT programmers, vendor managers, social workers, nurses, maintenance and operations assistants, recreation specialists, and more. Click here for more details on the job fair, and you can find a list of current job openings here, which you can apply for online.

Mecklenburg County, which is comprised of Charlotte, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville, surpassed one million residents in population last year, with the Queen City accounting for about 80 percent of that.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's back-to-school time in Charlotte, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students officially say goodbye to summer, and return to learning on Monday, August 25. Below is a handful of great community initiatives (of which I know organizers personally, and commend them for giving back), that are making the start of the school year better and brighter for our youth.

Please support these causes and spread the word!

Cuttin' Class - Community Hair Cutting Day
Saturday, August 23 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Park West Barber College, 3120 Wilkinson Blvd.
Just as they've done each year, the owners and staff of No Grease Barbershops are converging at one location and offering free hair cuts on the Saturday before kids go back to school. The free hair cut day will also include giveaways of book bags and school supplies. Boys grades K-12 are welcomed. Presented by No Grease, Inc. and The IT Factor Media Group., Facebook event.

Hair-A-Thon Community Back-to-School Event
Saturday, August 23 | Begins at 9 a.m.
Pure Body Salon & Spa, 2415 Tuckaseegee Rd.
Young girls can come get pretty in time to start school, as this salon is offering free hair services to the first 60 girls, ages 5-13. They will also be given free school supplies and other goodies.

West Fest
Saturday, August 23 | noon-6 p.m.
West Charlotte High School, 2219 Senior Dr.
This was a popular, annual summer festival on Charlotte's west side in the 1990s, and after a long hiatus, Project L.I.F.T. brought it back last year. This year's family friendly, free event will feature an appearance and performance by ABC Family star and “Just a Kiss” recording artist Mishon, as well as performances by local and regional R&B, jazz, gospel, dance, and hip hop artists, and the West Charlotte High School band. There will also be vendors, a resource fair, health screenings by Novant Healthcare, food, games, prize giveaways, and more.,

Million Father March
Monday, August 25
Your child's school
The Million Father March is a nationwide initiative to encourage more fathers, particularly African-Americans, to become more involved in their children's education. The effort is kicked off each year by a campaign to get men in local communities to escort kids to the first day of school. And for the second consecutive year, Project L.I.F.T. is organizing it for seven CMS Schools: West Charlotte High School, Allenbrook Elementary, Statesville Road Elementary, Walter G. Byers School, Bruns Academy, Druid Hills Academy, and Ranson IB Middle School. Charlotte volunteers are being asked to sign up by visiting, and the day will also include distributing of school supplies.

Back-to-School Ice Cream Social
Saturday, August 30
Center of Hope
InSPIRE Charlotte, a nonprofit organization created by professional women who are single parents, are organizing an ice cream social to brighten the day of the 120 school-age children that reside at Center of Hope in Charlotte, an organization that houses and provides services to homeless women and children. The ladies from InSPIRE Charlotte will serve ice cream sundaes and deliver school supplies to the children. If you would like to contribute, you can send school supplies and/or monetary donations to InSPIRE Charlotte, attn: Mashea Miller, P.O. Box 1316 Davidson, NC 28036; or contact  the organization at

And in other back-to-school news, CMS employees received an enthusiastic boost of encouragement during their pep rally yesterday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gatorade released a series of commercials online yesterday for its "Sweat It. Get It" campaign, starring quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. The two NFL stars appear separately in the ads, which range from one minute to two minutes long. They make it difficult for unsuspecting customers to buy Gatorade at a convenience store because the men and women who attempt to purchase the sports drinks haven't sweated, which means they haven't earned it.

Cam appears in two of the commercials, while Peyton is in six--he's the consummate pitch man, isn't he? Even though there are so-called hidden cameras capturing this and it seems to be a real convenience store, like the Jeff Gordon test-drive-prank Pepsi commercial last year, my suspicions are that these are all actors; though one (and only one) of Peyton's seems real. (Jeff Gordon's commercial has gone on to get more than 40 million views, by the way.)

Watch the two commercials with the Carolina Panthers QB below, and you can view all of them at

You'll also find Cam and Peyton alongside Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, and J.J. Watt as Gatorade's The League of Captains. Each player is a comic book character, with actual written and illustrated stories--Cam is "The Blender"--and you can purchase specially designed Gatorade bottles of the characters for a limited time.

Credits: Gatorade

And if you need more Cam in your day, watch the newest episode of "Huddle Up with Cam Newton," a five-part web series by Under Armour that shows inside looks into Cam's life, as he discusses the highs and lows. In the episode three, released today, he talks about how his college football career almost ended before it even started, including a candid moment about sitting the bench behind Tim Tebow.

Friday, August 15, 2014

At 6 p.m. yesterday (Thursday, August 14), the highly anticipated SEC Network launched. The Southeastern Conference and ESPN partnered to create this new national television network, which will provide 24/7 coverage of SEC college sports--specifically during the first year: 45 football games, 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games, 50 softball games; plus, live events, classic games, and original studio programming, they say.

Credit: Facebook

But let's keep it real. This channel has been created because college football's popularity is at an all-time high, bringing in billions of dollars a year in revenue, and the SEC has been the perennial football conference for the last decade. I'm excited that I'll get more comprehensive coverage of my South Carolina Gamecocks--we kick off the 2014 football season, on the new network, Thursday, August 28, at home against Texas A&M--but how many of us will be tuned into the channel come mid-January once football season is over? Furthermore, a lot of the big SEC football games, like Alabama vs. Auburn, Florida vs. Georgia, and LSU vs. Alabama, will continue to be shown on the major networks like CBS and ABC.

But for now, the SEC Network is making an historic debut, reportedly available in 75 million households. And in terms of projected revenue, it's the fifth-largest sports network in the country, behind ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN2, and FS1; and far ahead of its rivals, so to speak, the PAC 12 Network and Big Ten Network, which launched before it. Out the gate, the SEC Network is available on most of the major cable TV and satellite providers: AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable, and Xfinity (click here to find your channel).

The network is based in Charlotte, located at ESPN's offices and studios in Ballantyne, which also produce ESPNU (the Southeastern Conference itself is headquartered in Birmingham). There's a newly assembled staff working in Ballantyne, but a lot of the broadcast coverage will also come from on-site at each of the 14 SEC schools. And the network scored a major victory when it lured legendary college football analyst Paul Finebaum to Charlotte.

Get everything you want to know about the SEC Network:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Since debuting three weeks ago, the August issue of Charlotte magazine has been a popular topic around the city, led by its cover story on "50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do." The large feature package--encompassing 20 pages in the print issue--is a must-read whether you're a native or a newcomer or you fall somewhere in between. If you're someone who used to live in Charlotte or periodically visits the area, you'll enjoy reading this story as well.

A lot of people have shared the link to the story on social media, often commenting on how many of the 50 things they've done. Personally, I've done 46 of the things on the list during the nine years I've lived in Charlotte (today actually marks nine years ago that I moved to Charlotte from Augusta, Georgia).

Most of the activities, like "Wait in line for Price's Chicken," "Spend a day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center," and "Gain perspective at 1,625 feet," which is about hiking Crowders Mountain, illustrate just how robust and varied the list of activities are that this area has to offer. Others are more anecdotal, like "Be friendly" and "Don't assume everyone works for a bank," providing a little insight into Charlotte's culture and history, the latter of which people tend to not know much about, as this is a city filled with transplants.

I was one of eight writers to contribute to 50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do (and I'm profiled on the contributors page, pg. 14). The feature is also filled with beautiful photography.

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