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Indian Trail getting fiber internet
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INDIAN TRAIL — Kinetic announced plans on Thursday (Nov. 18) for a multi-year initiative that will bring fiber internet to more communities in North Carolina, including Indian Trail, according to a release from the company. Last month, the company completed a rollout in the Waxhaw downtown area.

The town of Indian Trail is the largest municipality in Union County with roughly 40,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census.

Earlier this year, Kinetic announced fiber rollouts coming to several communities, including Concord, Matthews, Waverly and Badin.

By the Spring of 2022, Kinetic reports it double the number of homes and businesses in Indian Trail that are fiber eligible; fiber internet is significant due to its hyper speed and reliability.

“It is crucial that Kinetic by Windstream is making this private investment of fiber to the home service in Indian Trail,” said Rep. Dean Arp, who represents Union County, in the release. “We have learned through the pandemic how critical it is for our homes and businesses to have access to high-speed internet service beyond 10 megabits download and 1 megabit upload and even 25:3 service. The 1 gigabyte service that will be available upon buildout of this project will assure that the internet needs for the locations being served will be satisfied well into the future.”

This project will give residents and businesses in the area access to fast, reliable fiber to navigate the internet from home with no lag times while they work, school or stream entertainment services. Businesses ranging from small shops to large enterprises can take advantage of the fiber-backed network to deploy solutions that make their companies more efficient and profitable.

Engineering for all these projects is ongoing, and Kinetic is staffing up construction crews for the work.

“… We are dedicated to delivering fast broadband speed, at competitive rates with unmatched service,” said Jeff Small, president of Kinetic, in the release.

Kinetic reports it is currently undergoing a $2 billion, multi-year construction initiative to expand gigabit internet service deploying fiber across its 18-state footprint. The company announced it will add nearly 1,000 jobs.

Bridge dedicated to Sergeant Greene’s legacy
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MONROE — On the seventh anniversary of his death, Skyway Bridge officially changed to the Sergeant Jeffrey W. Greene Bridge.

Greene served the Union County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) for almost a decade. He was a veteran of both the United States Air Force and Marine Corps.

He was killed in a vehicle accident on Nov. 19, 2014. While driving a UCSO vehicle, Greene was stopped at a traffic light on US 74 waiting to turn on Sutherland Avenue. “While there, an approaching tractor and trailer truck failed to stop in time and jackknifed, causing the truck to flip over on top of Sgt. Greene’s patrol car, killing him instantly,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Greene’s death was the first in-the-line-of-duty death of a UCSO employee.

Greene’s widow, April, spoke at the ceremony. She said the family has attended many memorial services in Greene’s honor that were “moving, emotional, honorable and solemn.” However, the bridge dedication felt different to her because it was “a happy day,” she said.

“Jeff deserves this honor,” April said. “He lived a good life. He loved Jesus, his family, his country and his job.”

Sheriff Eddie Cathey said getting the bridge dedicated to Greene’s legacy wasn’t difficult because of his good character. Approval to dedicate the bridge came from the City of Monroe, the Union County Board of Commissioners and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“It’s because of the work Jeff Greene did in the community that he loved and lived in and it’s the family he had that he loved,” Cathey said during the ceremony. “He was my friend and I miss him all the time. This agency was important to him and he was important to us.”

When asked how he thought Greene would respond to the outpour of community support, Cathey said “he was a very humble person.” Cathey added that the dedication would “mean something” to Greene, but he wouldn’t have shown it.

It was an emotional ceremony for April and Cathey. Both were teary-eyed when they spoke about Greene.

The dedication was made possible by the Union County Women of Law Enforcement, a nonprofit in Union County, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The ceremony was held at Motorama Classic Cars (1601 Skyway Drive).

Pauline Sherron, president of Union County Women of Law Enforcement, said it was a special day because the sign is evidence of a large amount of community support and “it recognizes his sacrifice and service to others as well as recognizes the family.”

“I know this means the world to his family,” Sherron told reporters. “They’ve supported us through this entire process of getting the bridge named in his honor. This will allow other folks to see his name and ask ‘who was Jeff Greene?’ if they don’t know already. This will keep Jeff in their memories.”

Sherron said the process to get the bridge named after Greene started in March of this year.

At the ceremony, Tony Lathrop, a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, presented Greene’s family with a miniature replica of the sign. The family was also presented with framed proclamations from the City of Monroe and Union County Board of Commissioners supporting the renaming of the bridge honoring Greene’s legacy.

Nearly 130,000 County residents at least partially vaccinated
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MONROE — As of Friday (Nov.19), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) reports 129,766 in Union County have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 and 121,950 residents have now been fully vaccinated.

According to NC DHHS data updated on Friday, the total of cumulative cases of COVID-19 in the county is at 37,486 and the number of active cases is 626.

The Union County Government COVID-19 online dashboard reports 30 current hospitalizations. The county’s positivity rate was 5.9% on Friday. There have been 357 cumulative deaths in the county. The state’s positivity rate, reported by NC DHHS on Friday, was 5%.

According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, any positivity rate above 5% is classified as “too high” and indicates that “more testing should probably be done.”

Across the state, there have been a total of 1,514,879 COVID-19 cases per NC DHHS, and 18,583 virus related deaths.

Principal for a Day: Eley shines at Piedmont Middle
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is a first-person account of Holly Morgan’s experience when she shadowed Piedmont Middle School’s Principal, Dr. Cassie Eley.


What does a principal do throughout the day?

Union County offers an opportunity to get an up-close look into a day in the life of a public school principal. For the past seven years, the Union County Education Foundation has hosted a Principal for a Day — which gives someone a chance to shadow a local principal. On Wednesday (Nov. 17), I took an interactive approach and shadowed Dr. Cassie Eley at Piedmont Middle School.

Rather than ruling by fear — and being a dark, stormy cloud roaming the halls — Dr. Eley takes has a warm and positive demeanor that radiates throughout the campus, thereby shattering my formerly held perception of a principal.

A Union County native, Eley was a student in the Forest Hills School cluster. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a teacher. She began working for Union County Public Schools after graduating from Appalachian State University. She started her career in education at Parkwood High School.

Eley has also led the Career Academy of South Providence, and later pursued an Administrators license. She went back to Parkwood as an assistant principal, then became a co-principal at Walter Bickett Elementary. She was hired as the principal at Piedmont Middle in 2019-2020.

Because she’s from the area, sometimes her students are the children of her former classmates. No matter who the student is, Eley’s motto is to treat everyone with dignity — as if they are the child of a president.

“They all deserve to be treated like the President’s kid,” Eley said.

Eley is constantly working on making students feel welcomed and appreciated.

She emphasizes self-accountability, and wants her students to not just pass their grade, but prepare well for high school.

Eley gives a lot of credit to the tutors at Piedmont Middle.

An early riser

Eley’s day begins about 7:15 a.m. By the time I arrived at 8:30, Eley had already checked for any absences among teachers; substitutes have to be called in to ensure all the classrooms are covered.

Eley spends part of the early morning greeting students and families. During the first block, Eley handles discipline from the day before.

When I entered her office, I joked it was the first and only time I’d been in the principal’s office.

In an email preparing participants for the day, the Union County Education Foundation recommended wearing comfortable shoes. Though I wore my most comfortable pair, my feet still ached by the afternoon.

Our tour was delayed slightly by a planned fire drill. In over two minutes, the school — which has about 1,100 students — was evacuated.

Around 9:45 a.m. students started filing into the gymnasium for “Panther Time.” Panther Time is a break for students, and they get to play volleyball. The winning team gets to wear a Piedmont-themed wrestling belt for the day. The purpose of it is to help students socialize and get excited about coming to school, Eley explained. When teachers ask to keep a student from Panther Time to catch up on assignments, Eley said their request is often denied because she considers Panther Time to be an effective morale booster for students.

Rewarding work

Eley and I visited many classrooms, and in each one students were engaged and focused on the lesson, or diligently taking a test. We visited a music class where students were learning to play steel drums. They performed “Surfin’ in the USA.” Eley said it was the best purchase she’s ever made because it put a smile on students’ faces and the teacher’s face.

When interacting on campus, it was clear that she is well received by students. In fact, they seemed genuinely excited to see her and she was frequently addressed by students in the hallways.

On this Wednesday morning, Eley met with her PAC — which stands for the Principal’s Advisory Committee. These students help communicate the needs and/or wishes of the student population to Eley and her staff. During my visit, the PAC filmed anti-bullying videos focused on the difference between rude and kind behavior and how those behaviors might make a person feel. Eley said students who are not typically chosen to be leaders are asked to participate on the committee. This gives students an opportunity to learn how to be a leader.

Being a good listener with the students is one of the ways Eley has earned their respect.

In an English Language Arts class, students are learning about the book “Hidden Figures,” which is about the first group of Black women who worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center; among them is Dr. Christine Mann Darden, a native of Monroe. In a math class, students are learning how to add up a bill at a restaurant to see if they had enough money to purchase an imaginary meal at Outback Steakhouse. The PAC students were told about an opportunity to serve at an upcoming Christmas event at Fairview Park.

“I think that this is one of the most rewarding jobs,” Eley said.

With her enthusiasm for education, and the relationships she builds with students, it’s evident that Eley has chosen a fulfilling career that benefits thousands of children within the community.