Mountain Island’s top stories of 2010

From boat regulations to a teen arrested for injuring a fellow student with a bomb hidden in a pen, it was a busy year in Mountain Island.
Here’s a roundup of the year’s biggest newsmakers.

Crowds oppose proposed boat regulations

In May, the Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission unveiled a proposal to limit a boat’s length and require boaters to purchase a permit much to the consternation of those who live and play on the lake.
More than 100 upset boaters packed the commission’s first of three public hearings on Motor Vessel Managed Access Regulations. It was a scene repeated again at the commission’s June and July meetings, where only a handful of boaters backed the proposal to ban boats longer than 22 feet and pontoon boats longer than 26 feet.
The commission would offer two types of permits: annual and one day. The commission’s proposed regulation does not say how much the permit fee would be.
At the time, Marine Commissioner Pam Beck said money generated from the permits would be used to increase law enforcement presence on the lake. The commission could purchase a marine patrol boat for use solely on Mountain Island Lake and hire off-duty, fully sworn, marine police to patrol during the busiest months of the year, especially at night, Beck said.
The proposals were intended to go into effect Jan. 1, but boaters petitioned to have more input in the process. Marine commissioners agreed to organize a stakeholder group to further investigate the proposed regulations. Commissioners will vote on who to include on the stakeholder group at the board’s meeting Wednesday, Jan. 5.

Charter school opens

After more than a year of planning, recruiting and teamwork, board members and community leaders officially dedicated Mountain Island Charter School on Sept. 15.
This year, the school welcomes 607 inaugural students in kindergarten through seventh grade. As the students progress, the school plans to add grades eight through 12.
The school also plans to find a permanent home in the next few years, but no decisions have been made yet. Classes meet in four large mobile units on the grounds of New Covenant United Methodist Church on Lucia Riverbend Highway in Mount Holly. The school will remain there for at least two years.

Hundreds speak on coal ash regulations
This year, coal ash remained an important topic and gathered national attention when the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would regulate the byproduct of burning coal to produce power.
Duke Energy has two coal ash ponds at its Riverbend Steam Station on the banks of Mountain Island Lake.
The residuals in the ash contain contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which are associated with cancer and can, “pose serious threats to our health and our environment if it is improperly managed,” the agency’s Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said a few weeks before the public hearing on the proposed regulations.
On Sept. 17 people came to Charlotte from as far as Virginia, Florida and Georgia to give the Environmental Protection Agency their thoughts about the federal department’s two proposed rules governing coal ash.
Environmental activists from the Mountain Island community spoke at the hearing.
“The two coal ash ponds cover a 69-acre area and are 80 feet and 70 feet deep, the equivalent of a 15 story skyscraper of toxic, poorly regulated, hazardous and life threatening coal ash sitting on the banks of Mountain Island Lake where I swam and played in my youth,” Bill Gupton, chair of the N.C Sierra Club’s Central Piedmont Group told agency officials. “I don’t want my children’s children to be exposed to this.”
“Currently the lake provides potable water to almost 1 million people in the Metrolina area,” said Alice Battle, a former Mountain Island Lake Marine Commissioner. “As such, it has a value to the region that far exceeds its size. … Years of abuse of the nation’s rivers and streams have produced immeasurable amounts of contaminates in most of the lakes in the United States. Monitoring can not be left up to the will of the corporations whose motivation is money not the welfare of future generations.”
Under the agency’s first proposed rule, Riverbend’s coal ash pounds would be closed and Duke would have to transport coal ash to a landfill. The federal government would enforce that rule.
The second proposal would require Duke to add protective liners to the coal ash ponds, which Jackson believes, “would lead many utilities to seek safer alternatives and transition to landfills.”
Officials have not said when a final ruling could be released.

School bombing suspect arrested

J. Bauguess

T. Bauguess

Two Mountain Island teens and their mother were arrested in mid-October after law enforcement officials found explosives in their home on Mt. Holly Road.
Charlotte police locked down the area around Tracy Bauguess’s 10622 Mt. Holly Road home on Oct. 18 after a homemade bomb in an ink pen exploded injuring a 15-year-old boy at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Turning Point Academy earlier that day. Bauguess’ son Jesse, 16, had brought the pen to school.
Jesse Bauguess was arrested minutes after the pen exploded and less than an hour later officers and bomb squad technicians swarmed the home where they found the explosives – the same kind used by the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. The explosive was so unstable that it spontaneously exploded and injured three firefighters during initial testing of the material.
Police charged Tracy Bauguess with three counts of malicious injury by use of an explosive device and one count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction. She was initially jailed without bond, but a judge later issued a $50,000 bond, which she posted.
Jesse Bauguess was charged with two counts of felony malicious use of explosive, three counts of felony arson resulting in injury to a firefighter and one misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. He was placed in the Mecklenburg County jail on a $500,000 bond, where he remains.
Tracy Bauguess’ next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 31. Her son, Jesse Bauguess, has no scheduled appearances.

CMS closes DIB’s doors

Davidson IB students and parents marched from the South Street school to the town green Friday, Sept. 24 carrying signs in protest of the possible school closing.

Following two years of significant budget cuts and facing another year of the same, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education instructed CMS staff to come up with a list of schools in need of changes. At the board’s Sept. 28 work session, staff members presented a list of schools identified for different types of changes, including consolidation and closure, and Davidson IB Middle School was one of them.
The award-winning magnet school was flagged for closure primarily because of the facility, located on South Street in Davidson. District staff said the building is in need of significant, expensive upgrades, and its relatively small size limits the number of students who can attend.
In their final recommendations submitted Oct. 26, staff members recommended moving the Davidson IB program to the J.M. Alexander Middle School building in Huntersville and closing the South Street facility. J.M. Alexander operates well below capacity and the addition of Davidson IB students would increase facility use and access to the IB program.
After the release of the list, the school board and district staff members scheduled a series of community forums at which members of the public were invited to share concerns and suggestions related to the staff’s proposed changes. Around 100 Davidson IB parents, teachers, students and alumnae turned out to the forum Oct. 7, dressed in school colors and toting banners. The school also organized a march in Davidson, in which students and parents walked from the school to the town green carrying “save Davidson IB” signs. Many wrote e-mails to the school board and CMS staff members advocating for the school to remain in Davidson. The school’s proximity to Davidson College and other community organizations is part of what makes the program so strong, some argued. Others expressed concern about safety at J.M. Alexander. Others worried that the program’s small size is integral to its success.
Preparing for cuts of up to $100 million next year, Gorman and his staff want to put as much money as possible towards keeping effective teachers in the classrooms, he said. Investing money in capital improvements like Davidson IB is no longer the top priority.
The school board voted Nov. 9 to close the Davidson IB school building and move the program to J.M. Alexander for the 2011-12 school year. The vote passed 8-1, with Kaye McGarry dissenting. The plan, as staff explained in November, is to move the program, along with any IB-certified teachers, to the Huntersville school in the fall. All other staff at Davidson IB will be “up for review,” according to the staff’s plan.

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