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WSOC-TV supports #GivingTuesday -- A day to give back

#GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is designated as a day of giving back.

The movement was created as a national day of charity in response to the commercialization of the post-Thanksgiving season, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The first #GivingTuesday was organized in 2012 by 92nd Street Y to promote and celebrate the American tradition of giving.

Humane Society of Charlotte supports #GivingTuesday

Leaders in the social media industry joined the movement to help expand the idea throughout the country.

Goodwill supports #GivingTuesday

The concept gained steam and was brought together by groups including the United Nations Foundation, DonorsChoose.org, Mashable, Blackbaud, charity: water, GlobalGiving, Groupon and more.

WSOC-TV has joined the movement along with other media companies, including ABC News and the Washington Post.

WATCH: Channel 9 anchors on #GivingTuesday

From all of us at Channel 9, we encourage you to give back to your favorite charity and lend a helping hand to those less fortunate this holiday season.

If you are interested in giving back, here is a list of the major charities in the Charlotte area:

Here are some of the charities Channel 9 has supported:

School Tools

Steve’s Coats for Kids

Summer Food Drive

 

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:33:24 -0500

NC troopers targeting speeders during 'Challenge Campaign'

This holiday weekend, drivers will want to watch out for state troopers -- they'll be stationed every 20 miles along Interstate 40 as part of the "Challenge Campaign."

Troopers hope the added presence will encourage drivers to slow down and prevent fatal crashes.

The campaign runs until 11 p.m. Wednesday and again on Sunday.

Troopers said they'll target speeders, distracted drivers, cars following too closely and impaired drivers.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:12:08 -0500

Police: Body found near railroad tracks in Huntersville

Investigators were trying to figure out what happened to a person found dead along railroad tracks in Huntersville Wednesday morning.

Officials said the man was found partially on the tracks near Main Street and Fourth Street. Police told Channel 9 that the man was hit by a train but they don't know if that is how he died.

Huntersville police said a passerby saw the man's body just before 8:30 a.m.

The man did not have any identification on him and police haven't yet been able to figure out who he is.

Police are investigating the death as suspicious but don't necessarily suspect foul play.

“It's too early to speculate the cause of death. He was struck by the train, we will have an autopsy conducted and that will determine what the cause of death is,” said Huntersville Chief Cleveland Spruill.
 
The medical examiner was out on scene and Huntersville police are also working with railroad police as well as Norfolk Southern on the case.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

Rowan Co. teacher accused of sexually assaulting 2 students
7 cars that cost more than a house
Police: Body found near railroad tracks in Huntersville
MEDIC: 1 person killed in northeast Charlotte crash
Holiday Travel: Weather could affect drivers, fliers in NC

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:52:07 -0500

Florida man accused of making meth in public bathroom

Authorities say a 20-year-old man is accused of trying to set up a meth lab in a restroom at a park in New Smyrna Beach.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports a construction worker called 911 on Tuesday to report smoke that smelled of chemicals and acid coming from the men's bathroom at Detwiler Park.

>> Photos: Justin Hill's booking photos through the years

Police and a hazardous materials team went to the park to investigate. Inside the bathroom, they found remnants of a one-pot meth lab. The restroom wasn't seriously damaged.

The worker told police he saw a man running from the area with a bag in his hand.

Evidence led investigators to Justin Hill. He's also a suspect in a home burglary.

He was released from jail and records don't say whether he has an attorney.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:28:25 -0500

Kidnapped 400-pound Sasquatch statue found

“Squatchy,” as he’s known, had been missing for several days. The statue's owner, Ralph Spence, didn’t panic, but he wanted his family’s favorite concrete friend back.

"My two youngest boys bought it," Spence told Fox19.

"It started out like a joke and, actually, my wife was kind of upset about it at first, but after we had it awhile we'd dress it up for the holidays and stuff," he continued.

It wasn’t just the Spence family who were upset. Ralph said neighbors were equally concerned because they too enjoyed dressing the concrete creature up in seasonal attire.

Spence was relieved when he got a call saying Squatchy “was chilling out in an open field” nearby.

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Police and the family found the statue wearing “a nice sweater and Cincinnati Reds ball cap.”

Spence figured it took a bunch of people to carry off the piece, but an attached note seemed to indicate otherwise.

"Squatchy only required two of our members for transit. Sincerely, The Body Building Bandits. P.S. Happy Holidays," it read.

Relieved the “kidnapping” ended well, Delhi Township police released a statement: "Sasquatch has been reunited with his owner, and it feels so good.”

The statement went on to say Squatchy “appears to be in good health.”

A Christmas miracle, or just a good old prank? Uou decide.

More here.   

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500

Passengers help push Russian airliner in -61 degree weather

In other countries, you may be asked to give a push to a car stuck in the mud. In Russia, passengers in the Arctic came out of an airliner to the bitter cold to help it move to the runway.

A Russian-made Tu-134 with 74 oil workers and seven crew members onboard was due to fly from the town of Igarka on Tuesday to Krasnoyarsk 800 miles (nearly 1,300 kilometers) to the south when the plane froze to the ground. It was -52 C (-61 F) outside and the passengers seemed desperate to get home.

https://twitter.com/RT_com/status/537569001514467328

Eager to help, several dozen men were seen in an amateur video pushing the plane by leaning on both wings.

Russian authorities, however, weren't amused by the incident, and prosecutors launched an investigation into a possible breach of safety regulations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnBHfxy0S1E

"It would be funny if it didn't pose a horrendous threat. People could have damaged the aircraft skin and the flaps," Oksana Gorbunova, senior adviser to the West Siberian transportation prosecutor, told the Tass news agency.

https://twitter.com/Gidi_Traffic/status/537593943584960512

Gorbunova said the passengers were asked to leave the plane when it got stuck. When a tractor began towing the airliner, some of the passengers left a bus and tried to help move it.

"The plane was towed, of course, because it would be physically impossible for people (to move it)," Gorbunova said.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:57:09 -0500

Travelers dealing with delays, long lines at Charlotte Douglas


Story highlights:

  • Officials say all long-term lots expected to be at capacity by end of Wednesday.
  • Average traffic delay Tuesday from Wilkinson Boulevard to airport terminal was 20 to 30 minutes.
  • During the holiday season, you can use the Channel 9 flight tracker to see if your flight is on time.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The storm system along the east coast is causing problems for people flying this holiday weekend.

Some travelers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport had to reschedule flights to the northeast Wednesday morning.

READ MORE:  US Airways offering flexible travel due to weather

Travelers should expect big crowds if they’re headed to the airport Wednesday to catch a flight or pick someone up. And remember, there are new traffic patterns outside the airport that many people may not be used to.

Charlotte interim aviation director Brent Cagle said he expects all long-term parking lots to reach capacity by the end of Wednesday.

Cagle said during peak times Tuesday, the average delay from Wilkinson Boulevard to the airport terminal was 20 to 30 minutes.

Channel 9 checked the boards early Wednesday and saw many major airlines were allowing people to change their flight dates and times before they get to the airport.

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Many travelers arriving at the airport Wednesday morning found that their flight had been canceled or delayed because of bad weather.
 
Airport officials told Channel 9 that a plan has been in the works for months to know how to respond to holiday travel headaches. Administrators have been working with the TSA and the airlines to come up with a plan to help passengers who may be stuck because of a delayed or canceled flight.
 
They've increased staffing at customer service counters and supplies like sleeping mats are on standby and airport restaurants are ready to stay open around the clock if needed.
 
More than 800,000 people are expected to fly through Charlotte Douglas this holiday weekend.
 
A TSA security director told Channel 9 that officials looked at those numbers and ramped up operations to match the demand and keep people moving.

“We looked at those days specifically to make sure that we had the right number of people staffed so that we could have the maximum number of lanes open to get people through the security checkpoints,” said TSA Security Director Kevin Frederick.

Some of the major airlines also said they've added more employees to work this Thanksgiving.

They've anticipated about a 4 percent increase in traffic at the airport and with a storm impacting travel to the northeast, they knew passengers were going to run into delays and cancellations. That's why they decided early to waive change fees so people can adjust flight dates and times if they think their flight is at risk of being moved so they can avoid getting stuck.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:17:36 -0500

MEDIC: 1 person killed in northeast Charlotte crash

Police were investigating a deadly crash in northeast Charlotte early Wednesday morning.

Paramedics told Channel 9 that one person was killed in a single-car crash on Mallard Creek Road near Johnston Oehler Road around 6 a.m.

There is no word yet on what led up to the wreck and the name of the deceased has not been released.

Lanes of Mallard Creek Road were closed while police investigated the crash.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:03:24 -0500

Rowan Co. teacher accused of sexually assaulting 2 students

A Rowan County teacher is due in front of a judge Wednesday on numerous charges that he sexually assaulted two students.

Investigators said Matthew Belk assaulted the teens while he taught at South Davidson County High School in Denton.

The accusers attended that school.

Investigators also said the crimes happened at Belk's home between May of 2013 and this month.

Belk resigned from the school and turned himself in to investigators Tuesday.

He was served with 21 felony charges of sex offense with a student and placed in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $10,000 secured bond.

Deputies are now looking to see if there are other victims.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:00:46 -0500

Holiday & Weekend Traffic Update

November 26: Carolina Panthers Holiday Tree Lighting

The lighting of the tree will take place on Wednesday, November 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the corner of Mint, Morehead and Stonewall Streets.  Mint Street between Morehead Street and 1st Street, Stonewall Street between Church and Graham Streets, and Graham Street between Mint Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard will close on Wednesday from 1 p.m. until 11:30 p.m

November 27: Thanksgiving Day Parade

The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day November 27, at the Levine Avenue of the Arts and South Tryon Street. The parade will continue north on Tryon Street to 9th Street where it will disperse. The staging area on South Tryon Street between the Levine Avenue of the Arts and Morehead Street and the cross streets between Church and College Streets will close at 7:30 am.

November 27: Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot

The one mile run begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, on Morrison Boulevard. The 8K and 5K will follow. Event organizers expect 10,000 runners. The 8K route includes Morrison, Barclay Downs, Fairview, Assembly, Carnegie, Barclay Downs, Runnymede, Colony, Wheelock Road, Richardson Drive, Ferncliff, Sharon Road and Roxborough.

November 29: Charlotte Checkers 5K

The race will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, November 29 at the Epicenter. Event organizers expect 500 participants. The route uses Fourth Street, Kings Drive, East 3rd Street, Kenilworth Avenue, South McDowell Street and College Street.

November 29: Prostate 5K/Walk

The event begins on Saturday, November 29 at 8 a.m. at Harris Corner Parkway.  Event organizers expect 150 participants.  The route includes the 200 block of North College Street, East Trade Street, and East 5th Street.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:10:48 -0500

Bank Robbers Caught

Two people have been charged after police say they robbed a bank in No-Da.

Police say Keia Garnett and Darris Marshall were arrested after robbing the Fifth-Third Bank on North Davidson Street early yesterday afternoon.

Officials say the pair was spotted shortly after the robbery and police tried to pull them over but they took off. 

They ended up wrecking and tried to escape by running. 

Both were found and taken into custody last night.

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:42:56 -0500

Russia takes jabs at U.S. over Ferguson protests

Protests in Ferguson, Missouri this week presented Russia with the perfect opportunity to critique the U.S. and its local law enforcement.

"Police have used tear gas on a crowd of rioters who were throwing rocks." 

Russian news outlets have been following the story out of Ferguson just as closely as U.S. outlets. (Video via RT)

Several writers carried a quote from a journalist at Russia 24 who described the protests like this: "Race relations, social inequality, a black ghetto — the fragile world that hardly held itself together through a belief in just a little bit of fairness, it seems, has finally collapsed."

The critiques extended from Russian news rooms to governmental offices. The Russian foreign ministrysaid in a statement Tuesday, "The latest events in Ferguson are another and very worrying signal to the American authorities indicating that it is finally time for them to focus on massive domestic problems in the field of ensuring human rights."

That seems to be the prevailing word from Moscow at least since the initial protests in Ferguson began: calling the U.S. is country that has descended into chaos and saying its leaders should spend more time worrying about problems stateside. 

The ongoing Ukraine conflict has driven a wedge in already-icy relations between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. and EU have imposed numerous economic sanctions on Russia for its part in the conflict. 

Washington Post article says Russia's focus on the Ferguson protests are an effort to claim American hypocrisy — the U.S. has condemned and punished Russia for Ukraine, but America has its own problems. The writer cites a pro-Kremlin news outlet calling Ferguson a kind of "divine payback." 

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Of course, Russia has its own social and political issues, which often lead to violence. Take for instance the anti-gay propaganda bans, which gay rights groups say promote hate crimes, with law enforcement allowing vigilante groups to kidnap and beat gays and lesbians. (Video via Channel 4)

And then in May of 2012, protestors and police violently clashed the day before Russian President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for a third term. Hundreds of people were detained by police and dozens more were injured. (Video via Euronews)

Russia's practice of hitting back at criticism actually has a name — "whataboutism."

A 2008 article from The Economist calls it a Cold War-era tactic where any criticism of the Soviet Union was met with "What about ..." this or that. 

It's hard to tell if this tactic is working — or what the end goal is — but The Wall Street Journal cites two polls that show a growing number of Russians view the U.S. in a negative light. And with news from Ferguson flooding Russian airwaves, it's hard to see those numbers shrinking.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:08:54 -0500

Darren Wilson speaks out as protests grow nationwide

As a second night of protests unfolded and more events popped up across the country, the man at the center of it all spoke out publicly for the first time.

"You have a very clean conscience," ABC's George Stephanopoulos said.

"The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Officer Darren Wilson replied.

That was Officer Darren Wilson, cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury Monday evening, then the subject of an exclusive ABC interview aired Tuesday evening — the rest of which airs on Good Morning America on Wednesday.

The bulk of Tuesday's segment covered Wilson's retelling of his encounter with the black teenager he shot, Michael Brown.

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"Is there anything you could've done differently that would've prevented that killing from taking place? Nothing?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"No. No," Wilson said.

And while the scene in Ferguson didn't reach the chaos of the previous night, protests in solidarity in major U.S. cities picked up steam. In Boston, around 1,000 peaceful demonstrators gathered.

In Minneapolis, the StarTribune captured video of a driver plowing through protesters and partially running over someone's leg before being attacked by the crowd.

And in New York, demonstrators caused both sides of the FDR East River Drive to shut down and blocked traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel and Times Square.

Back in Ferguson, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called in National Guard troops to try to avoid a repeat of Tuesday's looting and property damage.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

Published: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:00:57 -0500

Holiday Travel: Weather could affect drivers, fliers in NC


Story Highlights:

  • AAA Carolinas says there will be 48,000 more drivers on the roads this year in NC compared to last year. 
  • The NCDOT is preparing for winter weather, especially for drivers who travel through the mountains.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Channel 9 has been checking all morning with officials in the mountain counties and for the most part, the roadways were staying clear. Snow began falling in Blowing Rock around 8 a.m. and conditions quickly worsened.

Ashe County schools had to close for the day after bus drivers reported a "rapid change in conditions" early Wednesday morning.


View on YouTube

Avery County officials were reporting slick travel conditions and the National Weather Service was reporting numerous cars sliding off the road near Newland.

Ashe County was seeing a snow-rain mix which could make for some tricky driving conditions.

"I was doing fine on the way up but it just didn't want to keep going.  I gotta try to make it work what I have to be able to get up here,” said driver Horazio Munez.

RELATED ARTICLE: Busy holiday travel rush underway at Charlotte Douglas

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said they have crews ready to go once the rain turns to snow.

Meantime, the state Highway Patrol will have extra troopers along Interstate 40 starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, targeting dangerous drivers.

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AAA Carolinas said there will be 48,000 more drivers on the roads this year in North Carolina compared to last year, and they may be driving in weather that will cause further delays.

“Safety is our number one concern,” said Jordan-Ashley Walker with the Department of Transportation. “And we'll do whatever it takes to make sure the roads are clear.”

The DOT is preparing for winter weather, especially for drivers who travel through the mountains where snow is expected Wednesday. It has already suspended construction to reduce delays.

“Winter weather is obviously always a concern,” Walker said.

IN PHOTOS: Roads affected Wednesday by holiday travel

And it’s a concern at the airport, where there was bumper-to-bumper traffic Tuesday just to drop off and pick up passengers.

“It was horrendous,” Pat Nunn said. “It was terrible. I think the worst I've ever seen it.”

The Thanksgiving travel rush has already begun at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where they expect a 4 percent increase in travelers over the weekend, but some people said it wasn't as bad as they expected.

TIMELINE: Storm will make Thanksgiving travel messy

“There was a big holdup for people wanting to pick people up, but stopping here we were OK and the daily parking (lot) is OK,” passenger Ofelia Claxton said.

She said she was glad to be in the lines Tuesday and not Wednesday -- one of the busiest days of the year for airports.

"We never travel the day before,” Claxton said. “We always pick Tuesday.”


Winter storm warning for some NC mountains

There's definitely snow on the way to grandmother's house in the northern mountains of North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the higher elevations in five counties until late Wednesday afternoon.

Forecasters say the warning is in effect in higher elevations of Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties. A winter weather advisory is in effect at lower elevations.

There is also the possibility of winter weather again Thanksgiving Day in the area.

Up to 7 inches of snow is possible in higher elevations on Wednesday. Up to 3 inches of snow is expected in the lower elevations Wednesday.

Another 2 to 4 inches is possible overnight into early Thursday. Some schools are closed in the area.


NCDOT can help you avoid peak congestion times during your 2014 Thanksgiving holiday travel. NCDOT’s online maps of 2013 Thanksgiving peak travel shows congested times and places on North Carolina interstates on the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2013.

 

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Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:40:20 -0500

Neighbor runs into burning home, rescues woman

Neighbors said they tried to rescue a woman from her burning home Tuesday afternoon in Gastonia.

That woman was being treated at a burn center Tuesday night.

One neighbor said he ran into the home to help before fire crews got there.

"I got smoke all over me, everything, burns, everything, but I had to do what I had to do,” said John Rabb. 

He said instinct kicked in when he heard neighbors screaming “fire.”

"When I stepped on my porch, I see the house on fire,” Rabb said. “My first instinct was to run to the house. The first thing I did was I grabbed a shovel, bust out all the windows (to) get some of the smoke out the house."

Rabb said he knew there was an elderly woman inside the nearby home on Jay Avenue, so he ran in but said he couldn't hear or see her.

Fire crews got there in minutes to see heavy smoke and flames.

Firefighters said at about 3:30 p.m. they found the woman inside unconscious.

"I saw her as they were wheeling her out and she had an oxygen mask on,” said neighbor Shelia Gaddis. “She was breathing and talking."

The woman was transported to Caromont Regional Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. She was then transported to Wake Forest Baptist Burn Center in Winston-Salem.

Rabb said he's glad crews got her out of the burning home and that he'd run right back in again to do it again.

"You got to, she helpless man,” he said. "That's your neighbor."

The home sustained about $40,000 in damages and is a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

Police: Man killed 3-year-old girl, self in Anson Co.
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Rallies planned in Charlotte following Ferguson decision
Cops: Flea killer put in mother-in-law's wine

Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:46:48 -0500

Warrant: Grandmother smoked crack, left toddler alone

A Gaston County grandmother faces child abuse charges after officials said she took sleeping pills, smoked crack and then left a 3-year-old alone.
 
Michelle Hunn's granddaughter was found walking in the rain down Gaston Day School Road, according to court documents.
 
Arrest warrants indicate Hunn admitted to taking 10 Ambien pills and then doing drugs before she left the home.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

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Rock singer electrocuted by microphone on stage in Argentina

Ferguson businesses torched in overnight protests
Rallies planned in Charlotte following Ferguson decision
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Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:08:04 -0500

Deputies: McDonald’s managers robbed, left in bathroom

Deputies are looking for the two masked men they said robbed a Chester County McDonald's at gunpoint.
 
Investigators said they stole about $2,500 from a safe at the restaurant in Richburg and left two managers in a bathroom.
 
Deputies haven't released any surveillance video or any other information about the crime.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

Police: Man killed 3-year-old girl, self in Anson Co.
Rock singer electrocuted by microphone on stage in Argentina

Ferguson businesses torched in overnight protests
Rallies planned in Charlotte following Ferguson decision
Cops: Flea killer put in mother-in-law's wine

Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:05:36 -0500

Cam Newton Foundation hosts Cam's Thanksgiving Jam

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, along with more than 50 volunteers, hosted Cam's Thanksgiving Jam Tuesday for the second year at The Fillmore.
 
The Cam Newton Foundation and Second Harvest Food Bank served more than 800 underprivileged kids and some family members a traditional Thanksgiving meal. 
 
In addition to the meal, all guests received a fryer chicken, a bag full of canned goods and a pie at Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam.

Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:21:11 -0500

How to not burn down your house this holiday season

Dreaming of a fiery Christmas like this scene from "The Santa Clause"?

We didn't think so. And according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than any other days of the year. (Video via The Tennessean)

In 2011, the U.S. lost $11.7 billion to fires, so if you've already broken the bank with your holiday shopping, it's probably not a bad idea to take extra precautions. (Video via U.S. Fire AdministrationABC)

For one, always stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. It's recommended you turn the stove off even if leaving for a short time. It's not a bad idea to set a timer to remind you that you have something cooking if you are leaving it to bake or boil. (Video via National Fire Protection Association)

And even though it may sound appealing, the Fire Administration warns turkey fryers are pretty dangerous. It's possible to tip them over, and any amount of spilled cooking oil could possibly start a fire. 

If a grease fire does break out, WFTS shows how throwing water on the fire will actually make it worse. If a fire extinguisher is not readily available, you should try to suffocate the fire using a lid or a cookie sheet. 

It's not just cooking that poses a fire hazard over the holidays, either. Christmas trees have proven dangerous too.

It's important to remember to avoid any heat source such as fireplaces or radiators when putting up a tree. The tree also needs to be watered regularly because a dried-out tree can go up in flames more quickly. (Video via State Farm)

And be sure to check that the string of lights around the tree has no broken cords or loose bulb connections. It's best to avoid putting candles near the tree or drapes as well. (Video via NBC)

And your most important holiday preparation tip? Make sure you have sufficient homeowners or renters insurance. You know, just in case.

"Hi. Um, we were trying to fry a turkey and ... the fryer has caught on fire," a woman says in this YouTube video.

"That is exactly why you want a high-quality fire extinguisher right in the kitchen."

This video includes images from Getty Images, Didriks / CC BY 2.0 and Nik Sebastian / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:22:32 -0500

Meck. Co. sheriff recalls time in office

Sheriff Chipp Bailey could genuinely smile as he said his goodbyes at Mecklenburg County Jail North Tuesday. 

It has been seven years after the controversial political process that pit him against former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Sgt. Nick Mackey before county commissioners before he finally got the job.

“I think it took six months or better to get in my own mind that I'm the sheriff and I can put whatever vision I want to going forward,” Bailey said Tuesday, a day before he would officially retire from the job he’s held since 2007.

And Bailey's vision had to start with jails that were filling up.

He had estimates that building more jails could cost about $350 million so he took another approach --reduce the number of inmates.

That meant expanding programs such as teaching inmates about blueprints and about gardening in a greenhouse built behind the main jail building on Spector Drive, where inmates cultivate plants and vegetables from seeds to bloom or harvest.

“If you will, it teaches a little bit of nurturing to inmates who may not have nurtured much of anything,” Bailey said as he stood in the greenhouse surrounded by flowers and shrubs.

Another program brought teachers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to help young offenders get their GED’s.

“I tell everybody, ‘We're the only ones in the state who have high school in jail, and we really should have more,’” Bailey said.

It’s one factor that has helped create a dramatic drop in crime and jail population in his seven years on the job from 2,900 in 2007 to just over 1,500 now.

Bailey said he will miss the people he has worked with and even the few inmates who have stopped him to say thank-you for helping them make a change.

“That's worth it,” Bailey said. “That's worth any stress, any aggravation, any stuff we've been through. That's worth it,” Bailey said.

After more than 40 years in law enforcement, Bailey said he plans to spend more time at the beach and may even return to an old hobby -- writing novels.

Published: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:20:06 -0500