Logo VertVoters throughout Mecklenburg County, in addition to selecting local, county and public school board members, will weigh in this election on a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond referendum.

The Towns of Huntersville and Cornelius, along with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, have all voiced their opposition to the bonds which provides the North Mecklenburg area with very little if any new school infrastructure over the next decade.

In a written statement, the Lake Norman Chamber Board of Directors said:

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has always advocated for strong support of our local elementary and secondary educational systems, believing that the foundation for any healthy regional economic engine includes a robust school system.

With that in mind, while the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors encourages multiple lines of thinking when it comes to financing our ongoing and growing educational infrastructure and physical plant needs, we are opposed to the current $922MM bond referendum before the voters in Mecklenburg County this November.

The rubric used to determine school priority and the analysis of what defines classroom overcrowding do not address either the current or ongoing needs of our North Mecklenburg communities and students.

Since 1995, I have lived in the Town of Huntersville, whose population in 1990 was just over 3,000 citizens. Today, we have a community of 61,800 citizens and it is projected to increase to 84,000 by 2030.

It does not seem that long ago that current CMS District #1 Board Member Rhonda Lennon, then a concerned parent with the grassroots organization called FUME, and I drove down to a CMS Board Meeting, speaking out for a new high school to be built in North Mecklenburg. North Mecklenburg High School at the time had the largest enrollment of students in the state. While new schools have since been built, mobile classrooms still adorn our school grounds and our classroom space has fallen dramatically behind our pace of growth.

Twenty years ago, our school officials seemed to be totally out of sync with the growth taking place in the north corridor – or worse did not care. It has been pointed out that North Mecklenburg received significant support in the previous school bond, but for many of us – that was simply attempting to catch Huntersville, Davidson, and Cornelius up to the two decades of neglect.

When it comes to adequate road and school infrastructure, the Lake Region seems to always get short changed in the minds of many business and community leaders.

It is likely that the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond will be approved but it clearly does not benefit children throughout the county – namely those in our community.

When you vote this election cycle, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce urges you to VOTE NO on the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond.

Education is the foundation of our economic and business development. It is the cornerstone of our quality of life and what makes any community a great place to live and operate a business.

However, as business leaders, we cannot in good conscience, go along with a plan that does not address the needs of ALL of our children. Those students deserve more and quite simply, we can do better. The Lake Norman Chamber hopes you agree. Vote NO on the CMS Bonds!

Bill Russell
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce


Published in President's Blog

Huntersville, NC February 14, 2017 – Business and community leaders will get their first chance to meet incoming Charlotte Mecklenburg School Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox as well as thank current CMS Superintendent Dr. Ann Clark for her outstanding leadership at a Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce PowerLuncheon to be held Thursday, March 16th noon at Northstone Country Club, 15801 Northstone Dr. in Huntersville. The luncheon event, presented by Allen Tate Realtors, features both education leaders, who will be introduced by CMS District #1 Representative Rhonda Lennon.

The cost to attend the luncheon is $20 for Lake Norman Chamber Members and $25 for non-members. It is sponsored by Business Today / Cornelius Today and WSIC 100.7 FM. To register, visit lakenormanchamber.org or call the chamber at 704-892-1922.

Clark Ann 2015Dr. Clark, who has led the CMS School District since her appointment in January 2015, will highlight the success of the system during her tenure as well as focus on areas of improvement for the balance of the school year. Clark will continue serving as superintendent through June 2017. Under her leadership, Dr. Clark has demonstrated a deep institutional knowledge and commitment in her role as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Clark has held a variety of teaching and administrative positions in CMS since joining the district in 1983 as a teacher of behaviorally and emotionally handicapped children at Devonshire Elementary.

The Chamber luncheon will also be the first opportunity many in the Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson market will have had to meet the Dr. Wilcox who will assume his duties later this year. The business event provides Dr. Wilcox an opportunity to meet business, community, and elected leaders from North Mecklenburg and hear firsthand their thoughts and concerns when it comes to K-12 education.

Dr. Wilcox was chosen as superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in December 2016 by the nine-member Board of Education. Dr. Wilcox will join the district from Washington County (Hagerstown) Public Schools in Maryland, where he has been superintendent since 2011. He will begin his new role at CMS on July 1. Dr. Wilcox brings a wide-ranging mix of corporate and education experience to his new role, which is his fourth superintendency.clayton wilcox 480x640

Bill Russell, President of the Chamber states, "We are excited to have an opportunity with Dr. Clark as she shares with our chamber members and guests the strides we have made in public education under her guidance and the plans in place to shape our future workforce - the children of Mecklenburg County. Education is the very foundation of our business and economic development efforts and we are grateful for her dedication and commitment to public education. It is also the first opportunity many of us will have had to meet our incoming CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox."

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, with approximately 1,000 business members, serves the Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and greater Lake Norman regional business community.

Published in Member News

CharMeckThis month’s Focus Friday will center on the work of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force. The Task Force is exploring the economic climate in our communities and working to identify solutions to not only make opportunity more achievable for all of us, but also make our region a more desirable destination for new businesses and families.

The program will be held Friday, June 17th from 8:30 to 10:00 am at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Randy Marion Board Room, 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. It is presented by Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center and sponsored by Business Today and WSIC 100.7 FM.

Chamber members and invited guests will hear from Task Force member Dale Gillmore, Chief Financial Strategist at Make an Impact Consulting, Inc, which is focused on serving projects that support local underprivileged children. Joining Gillmore will be Rhonda Lennon District #1 Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board. Lennon will share her perspective as a School Board representative for North Mecklenburg.

Attendees will learn about the opportunity gap in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and some of the reasons our Charlotte region was ranked 50th out of 50 major metro areas for economic opportunity, and also how the Task Force is working to address this problem.

The Task Force call to action follows results of a Harvard University and University of California-Berkeley study that looked at the upward mobility for children living in large metropolitan areas. The report revealed that the Charlotte area ranked 50th out of the 50 largest US cities (and 97th in the 100 largest US cities).

Lead supporting partners of the Task Force include the Foundation for the Carolinas, Mecklenburg County, City of Charlotte, John M. Belk Endowment, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Focus Friday is a public policy program of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce which examines community and legislative issues from multiple perspectives. While intended for chamber of commerce members and community leaders, guests are welcome by RSVP to the Chamber at 704-892-1922.

Please bring your thoughts, questions and ideas as your input is critically important to this effort. Learn more at opportunitycharmeck.org.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, with approximately 1,000 business members, serves the Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and the greater Lake Norman regional business region.

Published in Member News

Rhonda Lennon reduced 426x640Local business leaders will get an update on a public education this week at the monthly Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Focus Friday. The briefing will be held Friday, September 18th from 8:30 to 10 am in the Randy Marion Board Room at the Chamber. Rhonda Lennon, Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board Representative for District 1 will be joined by Matt Hayes, Superintendent of the North Learning Community for CMS. In addition, Steve Gilbert from Omega Learning will be on hand to discuss the Lake Norman Education Collaborative. The program is presented by Novant Health – Huntersville Medical Center.

Lennon is expected to discuss student assignment and public engagement, testing, and operational matters including district leadership and financial challenges and opportunities. Hayes will discuss career pathways opportunities and partnerships with local business for workforce development..

Steve Gilbert, who chairs the Lake Norman Education Collaborative will touch on Partners in Education: partnering schools with area businesses. The collaborative is a program of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Bill Russell, president of the chamber, says he hopes to have a member of the state delegation present to discuss the state budget. “It is my understanding the state legislature may be in session through Friday night in budget discussions. Pending that schedule, we have asked if a member of our local delegation can be on hand to discuss education spending.”

While intended for Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Members, the Focus Friday community affairs program is open to the public. Non-chamber members are encouraged to RSVP at 704-892-1922.

Published in Member News

Common CoreThe Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will host a Focus Friday Legislative Briefing Friday, May 16th 8:30 until 10:00 am to discuss an education initiative which is likely to be a focus of discussion when the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes for the short session May 14th. In 2010, the NC General Assembly adopted the Common Core State Standards and has since spent millions of dollars implementing the program.

Common core is a set of standards that set a consistent group of measures of student progress in math and English from kindergarten through high school. To date forty-four states have adopted Common Core. However, the standard is now under attack with those who believe local and state authorities should control standards and not be part of a national effort. Many in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and North Carolina want to end Common Core in North Carolina and have the state set its own standards.

The Lake Norman Chamber, which has taken no position on Common Core, will hear from Rhonda Lennon, the District #1 Representative to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education and Terri DeBoo with Ideas@work. DeBoo, who serves on the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, is credited as the catalyst for business expansion into North Carolina for many companies including IKEA. DeBoo will cite the advantages to a common standard for education as it relates to economic development and business recruitment. Lennon, who was first elected to the Board of Education in 2009, is expected to discuss both the concept of Common Core and the challenges of the current program.

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber of Commerce, believes the program Friday at the Lake Norman Chamber will help local businesses obtain better insight into a lightning rod issue during an election season. "While local and state control over education is essential, it is critical North Carolina not abruptly disengage from a national standard that could adversely impact not only our ability to create a high skilled workforce but be competitive in our economic development efforts," said Russell.

The Focus Friday briefing will be held at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce in the Randy Marion Board Room, 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. While intended for chamber of commerce members as an opportunity to discuss community and legislative issues, the briefing is open to the public. The Chamber does ask that interested businesses and citizens who are not chamber member and wish to attend, RSVP to the Chamber at 704-892-1922. The program will be emceed by Public Policy Chair Richard Pappas. Focus Friday is sponsored by DavidsonNews.net and CorneliusNews.net.

Published in Member News

AT&T Simulator Event at Knockando Lane Retail Store Encouraged Residents and Customers to Pledge Not to Text and Drive

SimulatorThis past Friday, AT&T was joined by Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and Police Chief Phil Potter to address a dangerous practice that puts millions of Americans at risk: texting while driving. The event was attended by Mayor Pro tem Sarah McAulay, School Board Commssioner Rhonda Lennon, Chamber Chairman Wendy Moran, and Chamber president Bill Russell.

To drive home the message and make our roads and highways safer, AT&T brought a virtual reality simulator to its retail store on White Oak Road, allowing customers and the general public to experience firsthand the dangers of texting and driving.

"Sending a text or reading an e-mail may seem harmless, but as this simulator shows, just a few seconds of inattention can be the difference between safety and tragedy," said Mayor Swain. "There simply is no message – ever – which is so urgent that it must be sent by the driver of a moving vehicle. And that applies equally to adults and teenagers."

"Texting and driving is not only against the law in North Carolina, but it is as dangerous as drinking and driving, resulting in some serious consequences in some cases," said Chief Potter. "It is my hope that the accidents, moving violations, and the injured pedestrians shown in today's simulations have made an impact in the effort to help prevent these same occurrences on the our roadways in Huntersville, where our families drive every day. It is the hope of The Huntersville Police Department that our officers will not have to respond to, investigate and contact family members from any such occurrences in Huntersville."

The It Can Wait® campaign, which includes more than 200 partners nationwide, is emphasizing the issue during summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day—known as the 100 Deadliest Days on the roads for teen drivers.1 It Can Wait partners in North Carolina include the North Carolina Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association and the NC Department of Transportation.Potter

The 2013 It Can Wait campaign drive will culminate on Sept. 19, when efforts turn towards encouraging everyone to get out in their community and advocate involvement on behalf of the movement. Gov. Bev Perdue last year issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 19 "No Texting While Driving Pledge Day" in North Carolina.

"The wireless technology we offer at AT&T is capable of amazing things, but it has to be used responsibly," said Todd Lanham, Area Manager for External Affairs. "Sending a text from behind the wheel of a car is the wrong time and place, and it can have terrible consequences. That's why we encourage customers to download applications like AT&T DriveModeTM 3 to help prevent it."

DriveMode® curbs the urge to text. When enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts, letting your friends know you're behind the wheel and will reply when it's safe.

Texting while driving is an epidemic, and it's not isolated to teen drivers. It affects adults as well. A recent AT&T survey shows business commuters know texting while driving is unsafe, but they still engage in these behaviors. In fact:

  • They are texting and driving more than they used to.
  • Six in 10 commuters said they never texted while driving three years ago.
  • Nearly half of commuters admit to texting while driving, which is more than teens.
  • 49 percent of commuters self-report texting while driving, compared to 43 percent2 of teens.
  • Despite knowing the risks.
  • 98 percent said sending a text or email while driving isn't safe.
  • For many, it has become a habit.
  • More than 40 percent of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.4

To take the pledge and see a list of supporters, visit www.ItCanWait.com. For additional information and resources, visit www.att.com/itcanwait.

Pictured Todd Lanham, Area Manager for External Affairs and 2008 Chamber Chairman, Bill Russell, President of the Lake Norman Chamber, and Wendy Moran 2013 Chairman of the Board.

Also Pictured: Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter


Published in Member News

election dayThe Lake Norman Chamber will host a candidate forum in each of the three North Mecklenburg towns this fall. A two-hour forum will be held in each town at the respective town halls. The forum for Cornelius is Tuesday, October 1st; Davidson, Tuesday, October 15th: and Huntersville October 17th. All forums are 7:00 – 9:00 PM. The event will be moderated by Jerry Hancock, General Partner, of Alexander Hancock Associates. Hancock is well known in Charlotte as the former host of WTVI's FINAL EDITION, a weekly roundtable discussion of current news topics with local reporters which aired from 1976 to 2005.

Wendy Moran, Chamber Board Chairman said, "The Lake Norman Chamber is pleased to provide a forum for our members and the residents of our communities to educate themselves on the candidates for office. We are thankful for the support and the cooperation of the respective town managers and their staff in allowing us to facilitate these forums. While the Chamber does not endorse candidates, our hope is that these forums will allow the public to better understand the candidate's positions on issues that affect our communities."

Each of the three towns has newcomers to the political scene running for town board positions with a contested race for Mayor in Huntersville. The Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board District #1 is also contested with incumbent Rhonda Lennon and newcomer Christine Mast. They have both agreed to attend all three forums.
The forum in Cornelius is co-hosted by Corneliusnews.net. The Davidson forum co-hosted by Davdisonnews.net. The Huntersville forum is co-hosted by the Lake Norman Political Association.

Bill Russell, president of the Lake Norman Chamber, touched on the importance of this year's election on the business community. "The local elected officials and our school board members we elect will make decisions which will have a profound impact on our local infrastructure including land use, transportation improvement, and schools. When we vote on election day, we need to select leaders who can balance the continued economic growth and vitality our business community has enjoyed with the land use decisions and insight into managed growth which makes Lake Norman an attractive region to relocate businesses and families."Candidiate Forum

The format of the forums will be similar to the forums conducted in previous years giving attendees a chance to submit their written questions to the candidates. Local citizens are strongly encouraged to attend and participate. For more information about the forums, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 704-892-1922 or visit www.lakenormanchamber.org

Published in Member News
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