These are a few of *my* favorite things
Plus: Big Toyota plant announcement expected today; New look for Rail Trail Bridge; Detail missing on country club story; Felix Sabates downsizes; Huge Van Gogh head over Ballantyne
Good morning! Today is Monday, December 6, 2021. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger, an e-newsletter with local business-y news and insights for Charlotte, N.C.
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Column: This holiday, think about the things that make you happy; Can you make a better list than Julie Andrews?
by Colleen Brannan
Who doesn’t love “The Sound of Music,” one of the greatest musical movies of all time? Many of us know the words to every song and dreamed of being a member of the von Trapp Family Singers.
That said, Julie Andrews’ a.k.a “Maria’s” list of favorite things doesn’t do it for me. Whiskers on kittens? Deathly allergic. Bright copper kettles? Not a tea drinker.
Everyone has their own quirky collection of things that make them laugh, smile, reminisce or feel warm and fuzzy (like Maria’s warm woolen mittens). Here’s a stab at mine to get you thinking about yours:
Dogs: You know that woman at Freedom Park or NoDa Brewing that asks to pet your pup? That’s me! As a dog mom to my rescue, Violet, I spend a lot of time on the Humane Society Charlotte’s Instagram account reading about dogs who found their furr-ever homes, and it makes me so happy. So do their names which are pure marketing genius. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Bread Crumb, Potato, Cornucopia, Tofurkey and Giblet arrived ready for adoption. Evidently Tofurkey was snapped up quickly.
Prescription drug commercials: From the names to side effects whispered by a speed talker, I really get a kick out of them, sometimes replaying and slowing down to hear what might happen to me if I use these wonder drugs. “May cause sudden death” seems like too much of a risk. Recently, I’ve found myself entrenched in the plaque psoriasis wars. Skyrizi is my favorite because it has such a nice ring to it, much better than the clinical name risankizumab-rzaa. However, a recent entry into the mix, Trem-fy-a, has captured my marketing heart with their catchy “Emerge Tremfyant” campaign. I was torn between the two until I remembered I don’t have moderate to severe or even mild plaque psoriasis. Sometimes I make my husband play “Name That Ailment” where one of us says the prescription drug name and the other guesses what it’s for. Bet you want to watch TV with us!
Anything purple: Everyone has a favorite color, and if my dog’s name isn’t evidence enough, purple is mine, but not just any purple. It has to be plum or royal, not lavender or lilac. It can be clothes, flowers, a Prince song, my BRANSTORM logo, the Truist tower, Novant’s rebranding — doesn’t matter, I am an equal opportunity purple lover. Ask my bridesmaids who wore aubergine. I once even searched for a purple car to buy but there was nothing quite dark enough. I hear BMW made an aubergine 5-series for a year and discontinued. Evidently, there were not enough purple-lovers out there at the time besides me and Barney.
Songs from movies and TV shows: Did anyone else buy albums of movie soundtracks like “Footloose,” “Flashdance,” “Grease,” “Top Gun” and “The Bodyguard”? I played mine to death and likely still have them. While I’m confessing, I once taped the opening theme to Joanie Loves Chachi, “When You Look at Me,” with a handheld tape recorder and memorized every word in case Scott Baio wanted to duet with me.
Handwritten recipes: When I was first married, my mom wrote down all the recipes for Thanksgiving dinner I had grown up with. Her penmanship was as perfect as the sausage stuffing recipe. Now in her 80s, mom doesn’t like to cook much anymore, but she smiled when she saw I was using her step-by-step instructions in a plastic sleeve to make this year’s meal. Interestingly, this same woman would keep me busy as a child copying recipes from Southern Living, saying they were very important and she needed them ASAP. Well played, Mom.
The phone call: I always joke about bringing back the phone call which even trumps the handwritten note for me. My oldest childhood friend called me the other day, and we talked for hours. It was a nice surprise and felt good to talk to someone who has known you for 40+ years. I decided to pay it forward by calling another childhood friend I had lost touch with about a decade ago who lives in Raleigh. We talked for hours as well trying to figure out where 10 years went, laughing about high school, crying about people we had lost including her mom and best of all, planning a get-together. There’s just no substitute for a live conversation with an old friend.
Jack and Diet: Everyone has a go-to drink, and this has been mine since my Gamecock tailgating days. For a big birthday, I even made the pilgrimage with some girlfriends to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., as I figured it was time Jack and I met. No such luck. Turns out he died in 1911 from blood poisoning, reportedly the result of an infection that began in one of his toes after kicking a safe. Does anyone else feel that strongly about their drink of choice?
Books written by people I know: They say everyone has a book in them, and sometimes I wonder if I do. If I write this monthly column long enough, perhaps I can bind them all together for a bathroom book. Aside from supermarket tabloids, my favorite type of read is a nonfiction book written by someone I know because you can hear their voice in the storytelling. My favorites are by Charlotteans, such as Humpy Wheeler’s “Growing Up NASCAR,” Stacey Simms’ “World’s Worst Diabetes Mom” and, hot off the press, Larry Farber’s “Noted Memories — How A Kid From Charlotte Had A Moment With Tony, Aretha, Bonnie, Cheryl and More.”
Karaoke: I am not a good singer, but that hasn’t stopped me from lighting up karaoke stages from the N.C. Music Factory to Lower Broadway performing everything from Dolly Parton and Air Supply to Meatloaf and Mariah Carey. Solo road trips allow me to break in new material without judgment, and nothing is off limits because I am by myself. As social chair for Charlotte’s Women Executives Club, I recently hosted a karaoke party for our members, and 50 women attended! First prize went to Tracy Montross, by day a buttoned-up government affairs director, who by night became a Spice Girl performing “Wannabe” complete with tambourine. There’s a video … just saying. Holiday idea: Take a page from James Cordon and pick up some friends for a little carpool karaoke. It’s loads of fun and a real stress reliever. However, I’ve “heard” Uber drivers do not enjoy it.
So no raindrops on roses here, but hopefully some inspiration to explore or revisit the things you enjoy most this holiday season. Speaking of inspiration, I think my next carpool karaoke session will be a salute to “The Sound of Music.”
Colleen Brannan owns BRANSTORM PR and is proud of the fact she can still sing the 50 states in alphabetical order thanks to her 5th grade chorus teacher. Follow her on social: IG (Colleen_Brannan), Twitter (@colleenbrannan) and LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with some of your own quirky favorites.
Today’s secondary sponsors are Landon A. Dunn, attorney-at-law in Matthews…
… and T.R. Lawing Realty:
Announcement of long-elusive auto company plant in N.C. expected today: Toyota, 1,750 jobs south of Greensboro
North Carolina appears to be on the verge of landing a major auto company plant and thousands of jobs — something the state has wanted for a long time but never nailed down.
There are a series of government meetings scheduled this morning that appear to be related to awarding economic incentives for a project at what’s called the “Greensboro-Randolph Megasite” — about 20 miles south of Greensboro. It is widely expected to be a Toyota plant that would make batteries for electric vehicles.
Toyota announced in October that it would spend $1.3B to build a new U.S. plant that would create 1,750 jobs, but it didn’t say where. Then last month, the General Assembly approved $338M of economic incentives for a company that would … spend more than $1B and create at least 1,750 jobs at the Randolph County site.
Series of meetings: This morning, there are rare Monday morning government meetings scheduled by local governments in Greensboro and Randolph County and by a state panel that approves economic incentives. There’s also a 2 p.m. “major economic development announcement,” a Greensboro TV station reported.
North Carolina has previously competed for but failed to win auto company plants, which have often gone to other Southern states. This one wouldn’t be making cars, but rather batteries for cars, but a win is a win.
Fun fact: Randolph County, the site of the expected plant, is home to pottery town Seagrove and the N.C. Zoo, as well as several originally named communities including Erect, Climax and Whynot. —TM
A new look for uptown’s planned Rail Trail Bridge?
Officials plan to unveil new renderings of the planned Rail Trail Bridge at a public meeting Tuesday. The bridge will link South End to uptown over the John Belk Freeway (I-277). A meeting notice says “the project team has been re-evaluating some of the design aspects due to rising material costs.” It’s an $11M project funded mostly by the city, county and state but also with $1M from U.S. Bank. Sustain Charlotte posted the above rendering on social media over the weekend to advertise the meeting, from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Charlotte Urban Design Center, 1507 Camden Road.
When did Mayor Lyles decide she wouldn’t take country club membership?
There’s been one piece of information we’ve been trying to learn regarding the story we first told you about last week involving Mayor Vi Lyles being under consideration for a free membership to Myers Park Country Club.
So far, we’ve had no luck learning when, exactly, the mayor decided she wouldn’t accept the membership if it were offered.
A spokesperson for Lyles told us last week that the mayor’s version goes something like this: She applied to Myers Park Country Club in the summer, at the recommendation of a friend. She had heard nothing back and sort of forgot about it. At some point, she consulted with Patrick Baker, the city attorney, and had decided that she wouldn’t accept the membership if it were offered. (It’s possible that accepting a free country club membership, valued at $95,000, would violate the city’s ban on accepting gifts, though you could argue the issue either way.)
The spokesperson said he didn’t know when that conversation between Baker and Lyles took place, which would be nice to know — because there’s a difference between coming to the conclusion that you’re not accepting a free country club membership spontaneously, versus coming to that conclusion only after the media starts asking about it.
We sent multiple emails to Baker last week and finally heard back from him this morning. He apologized for the delay and told us that as a rule, he doesn’t comment on discussions with the mayor or council members. “I typically leave that disclosure of information for them to make if they so choose,” he wrote, but he said he’d follow up with Lyles to see if he could provide an answer.
Council member Tariq Bokhari, who is probably Lyles’ most outspoken critic, told us that he asked Baker when that meeting took place and that Baker told him it was Tuesday — which happened to be the same day The Ledger started asking about it. (We’d prefer to get that information directly from Baker.)
The mayor hasn’t addressed the issue, either. After not getting a response from Lyles in a request for an interview on the matter, Fox 46 reporter Emma Winthrop went to her house last week after our report to ask her about the country club, but Lyles wasn’t home. (The extended video of Winthrop knocking on Lyles’ front door and calling out to her is slightly cringey: “Mayor Lyles, it’s Emma Winthrop from Fox 46! Are you around? [uncomfortable pause] The garage door is open and there’s a car in the driveway, but no answer so far.”)
We’ll let you know if we hear anything more. —TM
91-foot Van Gogh hot air balloon to launch in Ballantyne
Don’t freak out if you see a bearded hot air balloon that’s missing an ear flying over Ballantyne tomorrow: It’s a promotion for the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Camp North End, which ends Jan. 2. It’s planning a “tethered flight” from Ballantyne’s Backyard on Community House Road on Tuesday at 7:15 a.m., Blumenthal Performing Arts said.
In memoriam: Former U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole died Sunday at the age of 98. He was the husband of Salisbury native Elizabeth Dole, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate from 2003-2009. (AP, via Salisbury Post)
Flight attendant anxiety: Airline flight attendants are dealing with a huge spike in unruly passengers, and some say they’re experiencing anxiety like they never have before because of threats of physical and emotional assaults on the job. The Federal Aviation Administration has initiated more than 1,000 investigations this year, compared by 183 last year and 146 in 2019. (Observer)
Covid hits Hornets: The Charlotte Hornets’ roster is in flux, with four players placed in Covid protocols over the weekend and unable to play. That probably means that LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels will miss at least 10 days, though they could return earlier if positive Covid tests were erroneous. The Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night without the four and have three home games this week. (ESPN)
Mayo Bowl set: Participants in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl are set: South Carolina and North Carolina will play at Bank of America Stadium at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 30, the Charlotte Sports Foundation announced Sunday. Asked if he would be OK having a vat of mayo dumped on him if the Gamecocks win, coach Shane Beamer said: “Well, I’m not a big mayonnaise guy. I mean, I’ll gladly take one for the team on that one if it means we won a football game.” (The State)
Ally murals: Ally Bank commissioned a new mural on North Davidson Street in NoDa, painting over two that had existed for years including one of former president Barack Obama. The new mural features characters from a Black superhero comic book series created by Milestone Comics and is part of the bank’s “milestone initiative” aimed at supporting Black and diverse artists and authors in the comic book industry and superhero genre. (Joe Bruno on Twitter)
‘Best local newsletter’ recognition: Queen City Nerve, Charlotte’s alternative paper, recognized Transit Time as the city’s “best local newsletter” in its annual “Best in the Nest” issue. The Ledger publishes Transit Time in partnership with WFAE and UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. The Nerve wrote, “True to the newsletter name, it is as wonky as any news junkie could wish for.” (Fact check: true.)
‘Worst idea’ recognition: Queen City Nerve, Charlotte’s alternative paper, slammed Republican council member Tariq Bokhari in its annual “Best of the Nest” issue for his suggestion this year that the city examine making it a misdemeanor to give food or money directly to homeless people. The paper called him “Councilman Karen” and a “corporate tech bro” and urged him to “take the boot out of your mouth” and “rise from your privileged perch atop District 6, and go experience the parts of Charlotte that don’t have mansions and Louis Vuitton stores.” Bokhari replied on Twitter: “It’s award season. … We’ve decided our top CLT 2021 honoree. Best liberal garbage pile masquerading as a media outlet: QC Nerve. Congrats, guys.”
Downsizing, Quail Hollow style: Well-known Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates sold his 8,000 s.f., 5-bedroom, 5-bath, 2-half-bath house on Baltusrol Lane by Quail Hollow for $6M last week, property records show. In November, Sabates bought a 5,800 s.f., 4-bedroom, 4-bath, 3-half-bath house on Eagle Glen, on the other side of the golf course, for $2.6M.
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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