Kicking toilet paper and keeping their skills up

Plus: Gates go up at parks across the county; N.C. Bar Association pushes for notaries to work virtually; Tim Newman charged with threatening to blow up dam; North Meck doctor shake-up

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For benched youth sports teams, keeping athletes engaged takes creativity; kids desperate to ‘get back out there’

By David Griffith

Members of a Dilworth Little League girls softball team practiced their batting swings before Covid-19 forced cancelation of games and practices.

Spring should mean packed sports fields across Charlotte, but this year, thousands of children who play in youth leagues have seen their seasons come to an early halt due to Covid-19.

Leagues like Charlotte Soccer Academy (CSA) and Dilworth Little League were forced to close their fields, disrupting a big aspect of spring life for lots of families.

CSA, which serves more than 6,500 young athletes from preschool to high school seniors across the region, suspended all play March 12. Dilworth Little League canceled all practices and games on March 13.

Dilworth Little League had been gearing up for an exciting spring. Practices had begun in early March, and leaders were resurrecting a softball program that hadn’t existed since the early 2000s. They were also putting together a Babe Ruth League for 17- and 18-year-olds, said Mike Waller, who oversees communications on Dilworth’s 27-member all-volunteer board.

Closed fields: Katie Vaughan, CSA’s social media director and girl’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy administrator, said most of her callers are asking the same question: Are your fields open to the public? (Her answer: sorry, they aren’t.)

“You see these kids wanting to get back out there,” Vaughan said.

Virtual sports: Keeping soccer players focused and dedicated during a stay-at-home order is a massive task for CSA executive director Brad Wylde and his 25 CSA section directors.

“We’re trying to do things remotely, whether that’s individual development plans, whether that’s some online Zoom meetings and talking about some match analysis,” Wylde said, “just to hopefully keep them active and engaged in soccer.”

Keeping people engaged virtually is where Vaughan comes in. The 36-year-old runs CSA’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and collects content from players and coaches to publish alongside her own. She posts two to five times a day on various platforms.

Kicking toilet paper: She found a trend online, the #stayathometeamchallenge, and encouraged teams to create videos of their players juggling a soccer ball back and forth from their own yards. She received dozens of responses, with each team putting its own spin on the video by adding a catchy song or using an item like toilet paper instead of a soccer ball.

Coach Dan Dudley and the 07 CSA Uptown King team showing off their #CSAskills in the #stayathometeamchallenge 💪
#CSAproud #InThisTogether
. . . . .
🎶 Music: Sunset Strip
Musician: music by
April 7, 2020

The goal is simple: To keep the young athletes feeling like they’re a part of the team. “I don’t know what we would have done 10 years ago without social media if this had happened,” Vaughan said.

Salvageable season? It’s still unclear when the players will be suiting up and heading back on the field.

Dilworth Little League decided to hold off resuming the season until May 15, to coincide with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Dilworth also fields a crop of travel and challenge teams that compete beyond Charlotte, and many of them saw their seasons take more drastic hits. Among them is an annual summer invitational tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., which has been cancelled.

About a dozen Dilworth Little League players had been planning for the Cooperstown tournament, Waller said, “and now that’s just off the table, and for some of those kids the opportunity is going to be gone.”

For CSA, figuring out when to resume is even more complicated.

CSA is a member of several different sports governing bodies, so it has to adhere to those groups’ guidelines.

“I think, realistically, if we can get on the field the first week in May, we’d be overjoyed,” Wylde said.

“Hopefully, when (players) do get back, they’re not too rusty and they can get back into the full swing of things,” he said, “because as soon as we open up the doors, we want to get off and running as quickly as we can.”

County’s one-size-fits-all restrictions take effect at parks

County officials wasted no time gating up drive-in entrances at parks across the county, after Tuesday evening’s announcement that too many people were crowding the larger parks and violating social distancing rules, thereby ruining it for everybody.

County Manager Dena Diorio told county commissioners Tuesday that the parks would still be open to walk-ins, but that shutting down parking lots would control crowds.

Sure, the big ones like Freedom Park and Romare Bearden Park have been packed lately. But what about smaller neighborhood parks, which attract relatively few people at any given time and allow families the chance to toss the Frisbee or run the dog?

At a news conference on Wednesday, asked by The Ledger why the county is closing parking lots of parks that have not been that crowded, Diorio replied: “We’re trying to make sure that we can disperse the crowds across the county. By making them pedestrian-access only, we limit the number of people who can be in any park at any one time. In order to be consistent county-wide, we made the decision to close to the gates to vehicular traffic in all of our parks.”

The Ledger visited a handful of open and closed public and private parks Wednesday:

CLOSED: Gates block the parking entrance to Carmel Road Neighborhood Park.
CLOSED: No cars allowed at the entrance to James Boyce Park.
CLOSED: The parking lot at the Johnston Road entrance to McAlpine Creek & Four Mile Creek greenways.

OPEN: It’s business as usual at Cullman Park, which is located in Ballantyne Corporate Park and is privately owned.

N.C. Bar Association pushes to let notaries work virtually

Many business transactions are turning to the virtual world these days because of Covid-19, but if you need to get a loan signed or close on real estate, you still have to meet face-to-face with a notary. 

The N.C. Bar Association wants to change that. It’s asking lawmakers to let notaries do remote notarizations during the pandemic to cut the risk of coronavirus spread.

“It is critical to the legal system and the needs of our clients that estate planning processes, real property transactions and the execution of other instruments that occur during this pandemic are and will remain valid,” the bar association wrote to its members.

This week, N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall chimed in, saying in an email to notaries that she too was pressing legislators to take the matter up quickly. The N.C. General Assembly isn’t scheduled to meet again until April 28.

Marshall said she’d also looked into whether N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper could authorize allowing remote notarizations, but that under state law, only lawmakers have the authority.

“At the present time, it is impermissible to perform a remote video or other remote notarial act until the General Assembly approves such actions,” she wrote in her email.

Other states such as New York are allowing documents to be notarized virtually using audio-video technology, as long as the person seeking notary services can prove they’re in the state and are able to send the document back and forth electronically after signing it. Then, notaries have 30 days to receive the original document in hard-copy and re-notarize it. — CB

Tim Newman charged with threatening to blow up S.C. dam

Former Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tim Newman has been arrested for at least the third time in the last two months — and this time is charged with threatening to blow up a dam outside Charleston, S.C.

WBMF News reported Wednesday:

Timothy Newman is charged with threatening the use of a destructive device, Santee Cooper spokesperson Molly Gore said.

Newman was accused of making a verbal threat to blow up the Pinopolis Dam, which is connected to the Jefferies Hydroelectric Facility in Moncks Corner, Gore said.

The charge stems from an investigation by Santee Cooper Law Enforcement about “a possible terrorist threat,” the report states.

Berkeley County deputies say Newman's cell phone location was tracked to the area of Winyah Power Generation Station in Georgetown County. Georgetown County deputies were notified and conducted a traffic stop during which they took Newman into custody, the report states.

The Ledger has reported that Newman was arrested in February and again in March stemming from charges of probation violations and communicating threats.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office also lists new warrants for his arrest, dated last week, related to “felony disseminate obscenity” and “communicating threats.”

Newman was with the CRVA from 2004 to 2012. — TM

21 doctors out at Holston Medical Group

Holston Medical Group announced Wednesday that 21 doctors of the northern Mecklenburg medical group have been “dismissed from patient care responsibility” due to a “dramatic reduction in physician office visits.” The Ledger first reported the doctor shake-up Wednesday.

The 21 doctors were among 35 who had already resigned from HMG but were slated to stay on until September, the company said in a statement:

Earlier in the year, 35 physicians resigned from HMG. Honoring scheduled patient visits and contracts, these physicians were scheduled to transition out of practice with us in September of 2020. That being said, Covid-19 has impacted many healthcare organizations like ours in surprising ways. With urgent Covid-19 cases being admitted to hospitals and the “Stay at Home Order” in place limiting check-ups and elective care, we have seen a dramatic reduction in physician office visits — significantly impacting our organization.

In February 2019, Holston said that 41 doctors were leaving Novant Health to join the practice and open 13 offices in northern Mecklenburg County and the Lake Norman area. (The announcement is no longer on the company’s website.) — CB

Loves me some internet

The Atlanta Falcons’ new uniforms were leaked online Tuesday night — and they gave some people flashbacks to a 2005 Adam Sandler football movie. The Carolina Panthers were like:

In brief:

  • Beer release: NoDa Brewing has released a new “Zuper Heroes” beer to honor healthcare workers, with 10% of proceeds going to 22 and You, a fundraising effort by Christian McCaffrey to support front-line medical workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic in hospitals throughout the Carolinas. NoDa describes the beer as “a classic Czech Pilsner with earthy, herbal Saaz hops, that is thrust to even greater taste heights with American-grown Zuper Saazer hops.” It will be available starting April 13th at the NoDa Brew-Thru (2921 N. Tryon St.) and in local grocery retailers and bottle shops.

  • Harris Teeter starts limiting how many shoppers can enter: In North Carolina, the limit is 50% of building capacity; in South Carolina, it’s 20%. (Observer)

  • County considering 11 possible sites for field hospital: UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College are on the list. (WFAE)

  • Furloughs: The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is furloughing more than 3,700 employees of its branches and camps due to Covid-19. The Charlotte YMCA closed its 19 branches and two overnight camps on March 17. (Observer)

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith