7 Charlotte-area DMVs, ranked
Plus: Premium newsletter enters McClatchy niche; CMS parents criticize 'pornographic' novel; Mayor's Racial Equity leader resigns; More apartments; Florida woman enthused to tour Gastonia
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We dispatched our intern to local DMVs; from ‘organized’ in Huntersville to ‘severely understaffed’ on Arrowood Road
People without appointments wait outside the Brookshire Boulevard DMV on a chilly winter day. (But at least it wasn’t raining.)
by Morgan Tringali
Going to the DMV sits toward the top of the dreaded-chore list for many of us, so in the interest of arming you with information to make it easier, we visited seven Charlotte-area DMVs recently to give you a snapshot of what you can expect at each.
A couple quick pointers off the bat:
Schedule an appointment. It’s always a good idea to make an appointment before you go, because in most cases, it will speed up the process immensely. (Walk-ins must wait much longer than people with appointments, who are given priority.) If you have an appointment, skip the outside line and go straight in to check in for your appointment. We’ve heard of people who waited in the outside line needlessly and ended up missing their appointments. Here’s a link to schedule a DMV appointment.
Go to the right place. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’ll need to make sure you’re headed to a DMV that offers the services you’re seeking. And make sure you know what documents you need to bring, how much you’ll need to pay and the correct form of payment.
More tips: The DMV has its own list of tips for making an appointment and preparing for a visit here. I’d add a few of my own to that list: If you have no appointment, be sure to wear comfy shoes and weather-appropriate gear, and make sure to pack plenty of patience.
Ready? Let’s get started. Here are seven DMVs we visited, ranked in order of best to worst based on what we saw:
1. Huntersville Driver License Office
Address: 12101 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, Huntersville
The scene: This DMV was incredibly organized, down to three labeled lines for people to stand in, based on what they needed to accomplish. These separate lines were for appointments, titles and registration renewals, and were each clearly marked with painter’s tape. There were attentive and focused staff members who greeted customers and organized them into lines, ensuring that the lines ran smoothly. These lines moved noticeably faster than all of the other DMVs I visited and overall, the DMV seemed fast and efficient.
2. East Charlotte Driver License Office
Address: 6635 Executive Circle, Suite 130, Charlotte (off Albemarle Road)
The scene: While the lines at this DMV moved incredibly slowly and were very long, people who had appointments were in and out much faster than walk-ins. However, even people who had appointments had to wait longer than they would have at another location. The biggest pro of this location is that social distancing was encouraged. The majority of people, staff and customers alike, wore masks inside as well as outside. Overall, this location seemed to be busy, and the lines were slow.
3. University City Driver License Office
Address: 9711 David Taylor Drive, Charlotte
The scene: The lines here were shorter than those at the other locations we visited, but the line for walk-ins moved excruciatingly slowly. People who had appointments moved in and out fairly fast, notably more so than the DMVs in Monroe, Arrowood, Brookshire and Statesville. The lines for both the people with appointments and walk-ins trailed out the door, with the walk-in line much longer. In the time that two people with appointments were seen, the walk-in line had not moved at all. If you go to this location, make sure that you have an appointment.
4. Monroe Driver License Office
Address: 3122 US-74, Monroe
The scene: The lines at the Monroe DMV were slightly longer than those at the David Taylor location, and people who had appointments were able to wait inside the building where it was warm. Unlike other locations, this DMV didn’t have any staff organizing the lines and checking on the people waiting. This made the lines flow less smoothly, despite the fact that they were fairly short. Definitely make an appointment if you want to guarantee you are seen.
5. West Charlotte Driver License Office
Address: 6016 Brookshire Blvd., Charlotte
The scene: The lines at this DMV seemed comparable to those in Monroe and Statesville, and the staff was attentive and efficient. Though the lines moved relatively slowly, once people got inside they were in and out quickly. But here’s why they’re ranked #5: People with appointments were highly prioritized, and those who didn’t have appointments couldn’t be guaranteed to get inside.
6. Statesville Driver License Office
Address: 905 N. Carolina Ave., Statesville
The scene: The lines at this location weren’t unbearable, but there wasn’t anybody helping manage the lines or ensuring people knew when they could be seen. From what I observed, this location was disorganized and hectic. Customers had to ask each other whether they were in the right place and had the right paperwork. People with appointments seemed to move faster than walk-ins, but not by much.
7. South Charlotte Driver License Office
Address: 201-H W. Arrowood Road, Charlotte
The scene: This DMV was the worst not only because of the long, slow lines but also because of the disorganization. This location seemed to be severely understaffed, and while the lines were moderate, they moved incredibly slowly due to understaffing. With only three out of the 10 stations in service and one staff member manning the lines, there were a total of four staff members at this location. I saw one couple walk to the front of the line and ask the person at the front of the line how long they had been standing there. When they heard the answer, they turned around and left.
Morgan Tringali is a high school junior at Salem Academy in Winston-Salem. She recently completed a two-week internship with The Ledger. She’s a lifelong resident of Charlotte.
➡️ We know going to the DMV is everyone’s favorite pastime. Where is your favorite location? Your least favorite? Any tips? Leave a comment or send us an email, and we’ll include responses in a future issue.
Today’s supporting sponsors are T.R. Lawing Realty…
Business NC starts ultra-premium state government newsletter; ½ the cost of similar McClatchy publication
Business North Carolina, known mostly for its monthly print magazine and daily email round-up, is beefing up its state government coverage by starting a daily newsletter targeted at North Carolina’s power brokers.
At $650 a year, the new effort, called the North Carolina Tribune, isn’t destined to be the state’s most read publication. But publisher Ben Kinney tells The Ledger he sees a market among lobbying firms and business and government leaders for unbiased coverage of the intersection of politics and business. It will be a mix of original reporting and summaries of news from other outlets. The company announced the publication last week, and its first edition came out this morning and included an interview with Senate leader Phil Berger about the prospects for Medicaid expansion and medical marijuana legalization.
“It’s going to be a niche,” Kinney says. “These days, to be successful in media, you’ve got to find your niche and engage with it and give some really good content.”
The N.C. Tribune might sound pricey but is about half the cost of the N.C. Insider, which covers similar topics and started in the 1990s, when it was distributed by fax. Insider is owned by McClatchy, owner of the Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, and costs $1,199 a year.
The writer and editor heading the Tribune effort is Colin Campbell, who wrote for the News & Observer and N.C. Insider before Business North Carolina hired him last year.
McClatchy executives have previously suggested that they don’t worry about digital media upstarts because their newspapers draw many more web visitors. Media startups in Charlotte “have audiences so small that they don’t even register on Comscore,” said Robyn Tomlin, the company’s vice president of local news, in an email interview last year with The Assembly, a statewide online magazine.
Kinney downplayed the idea that The Tribune is competing with McClatchy: “There’s plenty of room for everybody. What we’re going to offer is, I think, something that people are going to find value in. We’re not trying to run up against anybody. The more voices we have coming from up there, the better.” —TM
CMS parents blast required 9th-grade novel as ‘pornographic’
A group of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents says that a novel that their 9th-grade children were required to read is too sexually graphic and should be removed from the curriculum.
At last week’s school board meeting, several parents said they objected to the book “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” a New York Times bestseller by Heidi W. Durrow. It’s a 2010 coming-of-age novel described online as a “searing and heart-wrenching portrait of a young biracial girl dealing with society’s ideas of race and class,” and it won an award for depicting issues of social justice.
But the parents said some passages are inappropriate for 9th-graders, like this one depicting a sexual encounter:
When he touches me down there I count. He sticks his finger into me, and it feels like a pen jamming into a top. One. Two. Three. Four. Beautiful doesn’t let it hurt.
Five. Six. “Please let me see what it feels like,” he says. I feel his weight on me and his hands spreading my legs farther apart. Anthony Miller is taking the thing I thought I was giving. He is not big enough to make it impossible to fight back, but I don’t. It’s like my body thinks: surrender, beautiful. Seven. Eight. Nine. …
In my diary, this is what I write:
“Having sex with Anthony Miller was quite an experience. Anthony Miller got kind of carried away and so did I. The doctor says I have a pretty bad tear down there. I should be more careful. And make sure I’m ready next time. I am still bleeding a little. I think he did something to me. I want him to do it again.”
And this one, describing how one character was molested by an older woman:
There were a couple of times, though — of course it was only when they were high and drunk — they thought it was funny when his sex got hard. Once he ejaculated while the woman named Lisa toyed with him. He was so scared of having that thing sneeze again for a week he was afraid to touch it when he peed.
After reading some of the passages to the school board, parent Jonathan Thornton, who said the novel was required reading in his daughter’s 9th-grade English class, said: “Please explain to me how this is not considered pornographic material being forced upon 9th-grade students in our school system.”
‘Are you OK with that?’: The next speaker, parent Brooke Weiss, picked up on the theme, holding up the paperback and looking at board members and saying: “Are you OK with that? Are you OK with my daughter being forced to read that? Because I’m not. I’m not. … At a time when children are being sexualized in media, all over the place, why are you subjecting my children while they go to school to that? It’s not OK, and I’m begging you to do something about it.”
Board members traditionally do not reply during public comment portions of meetings. The issue was covered last week by several Charlotte TV stations.
CMS response: CMS later released a statement that said the novel is part of the recommended high school English curriculum and that any reading requirements come from the school level, not the district. It said the goal in choosing literature is “to provide students with texts that portray the human experience across time periods and cultures.”
For decades, schools around the country have tried to balance teaching engaging literature and ensuring that materials are age-appropriate. —TM
January’s rezoning filings: Apartments for you and you and you
It’s time once again for our monthly installment of “Where are the apartments being built?” — also known as The Ledger’s regular look at recent rezoning petitions filed with the city.
In our latest installment, available online for Ledger paying members, we provide the scoop on plans for …
312 apartments near Northlake Mall
350 apartments in Steele Creek
300 apartments in University City
expanding the fire station near Camp North End
redoing a shopping center at Eastway Drive and The Plaza
… and more!
If you don’t live near any of the 14 sites, you might not care. But if you do, you might care intensely. We have reported in the last few weeks on residents opposed to rezoning proposals in NoDa, Ballantyne and near Providence High School. Often, neighbors don’t know about developers’ plans until weeks or months after they were publicly disclosed. We report them soon after they’re filed, and before they hit the city’s main rezoning website.
Quotable: ‘like something out of a fairy tale’
From Friday’s “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” in which Florida resident Olivia Garcia explained her decision to drive through Gastonia on the way back from Boone after watching a TikTok video that labeled the Swiss Alps as “Gastonia, North Carolina” (she later made her own viral TikTok video about her excursion):
Clarkson: When was the moment you maybe realized that was not Gastonia?
Garcia: … We were driving back to Florida when I saw the TikTok about Gastonia, and it showed these beautiful snowcapped mountains. It all just looked so surreal. And plus the name “Gastonia” sounds like something out of a fairy tale, right? …When we were about 30 minutes out of the town, I realized, “Oh, no. There’s no mountains!” We had left all the mountains in Boone. But the best part is that I talked to the mayor of Gastonia, and he invited my family and I back to the town for a personalized tour. So I’m going to go back with my family sometime this spring and vlog [video] the whole experience to show everybody the nice parts of the town, how cool the town actually is and what they have to offer.
Clarkson: … For all our viewers in Gastonia, we love you. My family is from near there. It’s beautiful. Thank you for having a sense of humor about this. Gastonia is a beautiful town. And if you’re ever in the Charlotte area, be sure to check it out.
Racial Equity leader resigns: The woman chosen to help oversee the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative is stepping down following criticism of her record leading an agency in Ohio. In a resignation letter dated Sunday, Kim Henderson wrote that the work of the initiative is “too critical to be jeopardized in any way by public misconceptions” related to her prior job. An audit had found her agency had paid nearly $4B in fraudulent and inflated unemployment claims. (WFAE)
CATS bus driver dies: The Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver who was shot uptown Friday night has died from his injuries. Police said the bus driven by Ethan Rivera, 41, was shot at from an SUV around 9:30 p.m. near the intersection of Trade and Graham streets. None of the four passengers on the bus was injured. No arrests had been announced as of Monday morning. (WSOC)
Queens explores move to D1: Trustees of Queens University of Charlotte voted unanimously to explore moving to NCAA Division I athletics. The move would mean higher visibility to the school and would cost it more money for scholarships and staff. If approved, Queens would have the third-smallest enrollment of any Division I school, according to NCAA statistics. (Observer)
On the agenda: Tonight’s City Council meeting includes updates on a new proposed “policy map,” or zoning maps, for the city as part of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan; and the recommended use of Covid relief funds.
Loves me some internet: Halftime show
(Source: The Ultimate ’80s Page)
Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks daily is unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
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