2011 was anything but uneventful in Mooresville
It’s 2012, and the economy and state/national elections promise to soak up the bulk of newspaper ink this year.
But what of 2011?
From local government upheaval to stunning business announcements, news in Mooresville was anything but routine during the past year. Here is a month-by-month look at highlights from the Tribune’s pages…
» A turbulent winter and spring in Town Hall began on Jan. 4, when Town Manager Steve Husemann resigned after just two years here. A strained relationship with commissioners cost Husemann his job. Assistant Town Manager Erskine Smith filled in, then was formally awarded the post in June.
» A local champion for the Boy Scouts, Mooresville businessman Steve Vannais, died in a single-engine plane crash in Texas. In July, Mooresville physician Thomas Wilson would be killed in a similar crash in Georgia.
» Two Mooresville residents, ages 24 and 17, were arrested and charged with 10 downtown break-ins.
» The Mooresville and Iredell-Statesville school districts braced early in the year for deep personnel cuts, which set the stage for year-long financial woes. Despite that, our schools recorded record-high state test scores and graduation rates.
» Late January brought the first of several personal scandals to Mayor Chris Montgomery, who announced in February he would not seek a second term. Still, two days later, the town board unanimously called for the mayor’s immediate resignation. It didn’t happen, and Montgomery served out his one term through November.
» The stagnant Langtree at the Lake development received a big shot in the arm when an Ohio developer bought the cash-strapped residential/commercial project and announced plans to begin construction.
» Ten years after Dale Earnhardt died in a wreck at Daytona, thousands of loyal fans converged on Mooresville’s Dale Earnhardt Inc. to honor his memory.
» After several years of proposals, rejections and new plans, town-wide curbside recycling was approved by commissioners. Recycling trucks began rolling through Mooresville neighborhoods in November and collected 6 ½ tons of recyclables on the first day.
» Several children wandered from a Mooresville day care center and into a busy highway, triggering outrage from passing motorists and an eventual fine from the State of North Carolina. Three employees at the day care also lost their jobs.
» Mooresville thumbed its nose at Statesville when the 2010 Census revealed that Race City USA had become Iredell County’s largest municipality.
» Lake Norman Yacht Club celebrated its 50th year, growing from 16 members to more than 200.
» A nasty early-month wind storm toppled dozens of trees and knocked out power to 5,000 homes in Iredell…then was repeated two weeks later.
» Mooresville long-haul trucker William Cutler Jr. was saluted by his peers nationally for logging 34 years and 7 million miles of accident-free driving.
» A visionary baseball fan and developer from Salisbury, Lou Presutti, rocked the community by unveiling plans for a 25-diamond, $25 million youth baseball complex northwest of town. In September, Presutti announced that various red-tape snags would delay the opening of America’s Park Mooresville until summer 2013.
» Multi-family housing hit a high in Mooresville when a new luxury apartment complex was announced near the intersection of Williamson and Brawley School roads. It will be Mooresville’s 22nd apartment complex.
» County commissioners stayed close to home by naming Assistant County Manager Ron Smith as the successor to longtime manager Joel Mashburn. The latter retired in late June.
» Vacant since 1999, the sprawling Burlington Mill building on south Main Street got new life when Merinos Home Furnishings Warehouse opened there.
» Race driver Kyle Busch was pulled by sheriff’s deputy for driving 128 mph in a 45 mph zone on Perth Road. That is correct … 83 mph over the speed limit.
» Lake Norman bass fishermen had an early Christmas when the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission released 177,500 striped bass in the lake -- far more than the usual annual stocking.
» MI-Connection, the embattled cable/internet company owned jointly by the towns of Mooresville and Davidson, began the transition to local management. Previously, the utility was managed by Bristol Virginia Utilities.
» After weeks of worry, the Mooresville Graded School District and other “city districts” around the state got a two-year reprieve from a budget amendment in Raleigh that could have drastically reduced their funding. In essence, the cuts to MGSD could force a merger with the Iredell-Statesville Schools.
» The shifting of Mooresville’s population, confirmed by the 2010 Census, resulted in town commissioners moving 2,200 residents from Ward 4 to Ward 2. The additional voters didn’t hurt Thurman Houston’s re-election bid in Ward 2, though.
» Two years after 31-year-old Matt Stewart was shot to death in the bedroom of his suburban Mooresville home, police continued to be baffled by the crime. Despite few leads, Police Chief Carl Robbins said the case remains a priority. It remains unsolved.
» Thousands of seniors graduated from Iredell County high schools, including a record 383 at Mooresville High.
» New welcoming signs at several of Mooresville’s entrances were unveiled, touting the town’s “Lake District” and historic downtown.
» Two of Mooresville’s most well-known streets – Fieldstone and Magnolia – finally were the recipients of sidewalks.
» Bob Atwell celebrated 20 years of running his lunch counter, Bob’s Grill, on Main Street.
» Mooresville got a huge new water customer, when Niagara Bottling LLC announced plans to open a plant here and buy about $425,000 worth of water per year from the town for its products.
» Downtown lost one of its chief boosters when Eugene T. “Peanut” Miller died after having been injured in a car accident weeks earlier. Peanut, 83, was a partner in Whit-Miller Shoes and Repair.
» Ken Vaughn, longtime director of the Iredell County Cooperative Extension Service, died after a six-month struggle with cancer.
» Police raided a home on a quiet Mooresville cul-de-sac and found 700 marijuana plants growing inside. The pot had a street value of $1 million.
» An automobile accident claimed the life of Jennifer Cernuto, 18, of Mooresville, but she left a lasting legacy: the Jennifer Rose Cernuto Family foundation, Inc. that that will provide an annual scholarship to a graduating student at SouthLake Christian Academy and establishes a building fund there.
» Higher education in Iredell beamed with pride when Mitchell Community College unveiled its new $5 million, 30,000-square-foot classroom building in Mooresville.
» Budget cuts forced the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children to close its Mooresville office. In December, The Exchange/SCAN Child and Parenting Center would fall victim to similar cuts and close its Mooresville site.
» Shelby Dean Martin, a Mooresville man convicted of bilking millions of dollars from investors, was sentenced to 116 months in prison.
» Jack Moore, owner of the 112-year-old D.E. Turner & Co. hardware, celebrated 65 years of working in the Main Street store.
» Continuing to stay ahead of the digital curve among public schools, the Mooresville Graded School District announced that its grades 4-12 students would all receive new MacBook Air laptop computers – replacing older MacBooks.
» Welcome Home Veterans, the organization that runs Richard’s Coffee Shop and military museum here, announced plans to hopefully buy and move to a larger building at 165 N. Main St. At year’s end, the fundraising goal was getting closer.
» Road-widening work on Brawley School Road, long a source of frustration for motorists and nearby businesses, finally was completed between Williamson and Southfork roads. Traffic flowed smoothly on the new highway just in time for the start of the school year.
» Lake Norman-area neighborhoods in Iredell rested easier after three teens were arrested and charged in a rash of home burglaries and vehicle break-ins.
» Law enforcement agencies urged Lake Norman boaters to use caution, and not drink, in the wake of the year’s fourth drowning in Iredell waters.
» When the candidate filing period ended for Mooresville government elections, a record seven candidates had entered the race for one at-large seat on the town board. In all, 13 people ran for four seats.
» Love Valley founder and its longtime mayor, Andy Barker, died at 87.
» Lincoln County newspaper publisher Ken Fortenberry, announced that he will run against 10th District U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry in May’s Republican primary.
» Hollywood paid another visit to Mooresville, filming throughout town for the Showtime cable TV series “Homeland.”
» Mitchell Community College President Douglas Eason announced his impending retirement after 21 years … and Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Shore resigned, and was replaced in December by the chamber’s board chairman, Kirk Ballard.
» Mooresville’s largest park – the 80-acre Mazeppa Road Park – opened with six lighted soccer fields and four lighted baseball/softball fields.
» The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were remembered with extensive coverage in the Tribune.
» Mooresville unveiled its spacious new Public Services Operations Center on U.S. 21, finally bringing all of the town’s public services departments and equipment under one roof.
» A local NASCAR team announced plans to lay off 152 employees, the first of several similar announcements within the industry here.
» Volunteers hauled 7,890 pounds of junk and litter from Iredell’s 30 miles of Lake Norman shoreline, part of the annual N.C. Big Sweep.
» A software glitch caused 700 of the 4,500 MacBook laptops in the Mooresville Graded School District to crash for several days.
» Mooresville’s Grey Mills announced he will not seek a third term as the N.C. House’s District 95 representative. In December, Mooresville lawyer and former Iredell GOP chairman Charlton Allen would announce plans to succeed Mills.
» Longtime State Sen. James Forrester, whose 41st District includes Mooresville, died unexpectedly at age 74. Mooresville town commissioner Chris Carney would be chosen by the 41st District GOP leadership in November to complete Forrester’s term.
» Town commissioner Miles Atkins emerged from a grueling mayoral campaign to defeat Jared Esselman with 54.5 percent of the vote. A season of change also brought a new commissioner to Ward 1 (Eddie Dingler) and a new at-large commissioner (Bobby Compton). Ward 2 commissioner Thurman Houston was re-elected.
» Peggy Popp, wife of well-known MHS football coach Joe Popp and the owner for two decades of Peggy’s Shoe Fashions in Mooresville and Cornelius, died at age 80. Other notable deaths in 2011 included Jack Overcash, founder of Overcash Electric Co., longtime local businesswoman Mildred Smitchko, Robert Dyson (Dyson Seafood) and Dorothy Mabry (Mabry’s Washerette).
» Just two years after suffering a winless football season, Mooresville High’s Blue Devils marched to the state 4A semifinals, the most stirring sports story of the year.
» Downtown Mooresville’s 67th annual Christmas parade was the largest ever, with 160 floats, bands and vehicles and 3,500 participants.
» Denver optometrist and Mooresville native David Curtis announced his intention to oppose Chris Carney in a May GOP primary for a state senate seat.
» Proponents of the Red Line commuter/freight train resurrected plans for the Charlotte-to-Mooresville train, urging local governments to buy into the concept.
» Town commissioners chose banker Lisa Qualls to complete the Ward 4 term of Chris Carney when the latter took his new state senate seat. Qualls is the second woman to serve on the board of commissioners.
» Sears announces it will close its Statesville store.
» The owner of Merinos Home Furnishings Warehouse in the former Burlington Mill announced that Boyles Furniture will occupy at least 40,000 square feet of the building in March.
» After weeks of worrying about collecting enough toys, Iredell County’s Toys for Tots drive was able to give toys to a record 3,005 children.