Category Archives: monroe

Opinion: Wingate’s lack of emergency planning during the school lockdown

Ryan McKeel, Staff Writer

Shortly before Spring Break, Wingate University was put on lockdown on what was supposed to be just a normal Monday. In the middle of the day, law enforcement responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street south of US 74 across from the Wingate campus.

Members of the Wingate community were shocked to learn that while campus safety did their best to protect students, several problems at the institution existed that counteracted any successful measure by the team.

During the lockdown, several professors and staff members continued class, rehearsal, and practice within well-lit rooms with open blinds and propped-open doors as if to say “Hey! I’m in here, Mr. Gunman,” while forcing students to stay seated with their phones in their pockets and their eyes dead ahead. These professors either did not know what to do during a lockdown or seemingly did not care enough to follow procedures.

During the lockdown, some faculty members kept pursuing their lifelong mission of sharing trigonometry with disengaged students. They allowed their own selfish desire for control to override their position of authority, that commands them to protect their classroom community.

There were, however, countless reports of professors, some even near retirement, barricading doors with desks and chairs in an effort to protect themselves and the students with them. These employees followed protocol and attempted to do everything in their power to help the students they serve.

Only one problem existed above those helpful students and teachers: many of the doors on this campus do not lock.

Less than a month after the lockdown, University officials began to order and install locks on the door that could easily protect students during a lockdown, but why did it take a threatening situation to make this happen? Who decided to keep building gyms and dorms while doors could not yet lock? Why is it that this institution is seemingly so invested in what the campus looks like yet when it came down to protecting students most, we were left to barricade classrooms while some instructors who had no idea what to do?

The University needs to install systems of training required of all community members, including faculty, staff and students that actively prepare individuals for dangerous situations. All rooms on this campus should be prepared to protect its inhabitants, should students and faculty find themselves in it during a threatening scenario.

University employees who refuse to take matters like this seriously and would rather follow their own hidden agenda, should be fired.

It is easy to blame millennials for complaining, but students pay more in annual tuition and fees to this institution than some employees make in a year, yet it took a potentially life threatening day to start hearing their voices.

The community got lucky this time, but in a world that seemingly thrives off of school shootings, it is imperative that the Wingate community listens to the shouts of the angered and does something serious about protecting those who work, study and live on this campus. We will be the idiots the next time this happens, if we are not prepared.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate makes changes to the safety protocol in reaction to the campus lockdown

Mariah Anderson, Staff Writer

“Wingate University has issued immediate lock-down procedures for the main campus. Please lock all doors and windows and await further instruction.” With this 11:35 a.m. text, Wingate University instituted a lockdown on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Rumors of an active shooter on campus caused students in the dining hall to race to their dorms since they had no place to hide in the open hall.

Students and faculty in classrooms immediately moved to lock the doors, but some rooms had no locks. The people in these rooms used chairs and tables to barricade the entryway as they awaited further instructions and details from the university staff.

During the lockdown, students and faculty were notified that the shooting had happened across the street from campus on Jerome Street earlier that morning. However, Wingate took precaution and placed the campus on lockdown to ensure student safety.

After the lockdown, the question at hand became: Was Wingate University prepared for a lockdown, and how could they better prepare for similar events in the future?

One possible way to prepare for the future would be to ensure that proper communication occurs with everyone: faculty, staff, students, and parents. Professor Karen Dunn stated that she was unaware that there was a lockdown until a student told her because she was busy teaching when the message was sent out, and the alarm was not audible from the classroom.

Another professor, Dr Jim Coon, stated that he did not receive the text alerts because he had mistakenly subscribed to the weather alerts.

Both professors were uncertain about what procedures to follow, with Professor Dunn stating, “As a professor, I felt that I should have known what to do, but I didn’t know what to do.” In fact, she found herself asking her students, “What should we do?”

The students and professor jumped into action, but overall the classroom felt unprepared for such an emergency, suggesting that one area of improvement Wingate might pursue would be to have mandatory training for faculty and staff on how to handle emergency protocols.

Some parents expressed reservations at the lack of communication in place, with one parent stating, “I think they could have been a little more forthcoming with the fact that the students were following safety protocol. It was not until I was contacted by my daughter that I found out that a safety protocol was not in place or worse had not been previously practiced by Staff and Students.”

One student, Cameron Smetak, criticized the amount of time it took to alert the students, “We should have been informed that there were shots fired across the highway right when it happened, not an hour later like we did.” An immediate alert system in the future might save lives.

Wingate University has already started instituting changes. A recent email to the campus community stated that the university was working on the doors without locks, posting lockdown guidelines in each room, improving communication with Union County, planning to conduct drills for each emergency, and adding additional sirens on campus.

However, this email was not sent to parents of students, so some parents are unaware of these upcoming changes, with one parent stating that he was “not aware of any improvements since the incident.”

However, students have noted that Wingate University is already implementing the promised changes, with new deadbolts being installed on doors that previously lacked them.

The faculty have noted positive changes as well. Dr. Coon stated, “We have gotten a couple of emails as faculty and staff, they are going through all of the procedures and looking at what worked and what didn’t. They’ve gotten feedback from lots of people, too.”

Although the recent lockdown was frightening for the campus community, it helped Wingate identify strengths and weaknesses in its emergency system. One parent, commenting on the success of this lockdown, suggested, “Simply have a plan. Practice it as well. The campus is a simple one that makes security in such an event more possible.”

With the improvements in place, Wingate will become a safer community, one that is fully prepared for emergencies and able to respond in a timely fashion in order to prevent tragedy.

Wingate University is advising all students to update their contact information on WUSync so that future alert systems can reach the entire campus community.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Dr. Cannon speaks at Union County Library on how to discern facts from fake news

Leah Joyner, Staff Writer

Monroe, N.C.– Community members in Union County may have felt like they had gone back to college when they attended a program taught by Dr. Keith Cannon, the Chair and Professor of Journalism at Wingate University in the Communications Department.

He spoke on Tuesday night at the Union County Monroe Public Library with the subject on news media being fact or fake and how to discern the truth.

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Photo Credit: Leah Joyner

Cannon decided to title his talk “Today’s News: Fake, Fair, and Balanced… or Something Else Entirely” and focused on the news media and the depth of reporting. Similar to his teaching style, Cannon encouraged audience participation in his lecture. By engaging the attendees in open discussion, he was able to tailor his answers to them and help them understand his views and knowledge on the subject matter.

With over 40 years of journalism experience, he is a qualified teacher to speak about fake news and the news media in general. In addition to teaching about the history of news media, Cannon talked about the hot button topics like discerning propaganda in the media and how to fact check news sources. Cannon listed websites like Politifact and FactCheck.org to help individuals do their own research.

If some people are skeptical about fact-checking sites that they consider untrustworthy, Cannon suggested they can do their own research by going straight to the primary source. He continued to share a fake story about a Supreme Court decision that was posted on social media that people couldn’t actually find on the Supreme Court website.

“Something that I tell my students all the time is I’m not here to tell you what to think…the basic thing I am telling you is to test it for yourself,” said Cannon.

Cannon motivated the audience that to have journalistic standards, one must use objectivity, strive for accuracy, be thorough in their research, and write well. He also encouraged young professionals that now is a good time to become entrepreneurs in this market.

Since 1994, Cannon has been a Wingate faculty and has been a department chair since 2010. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a past president of the Charlotte Pro chapter of SPJ. He is very involved on social media where people can follow him at @KeithCannon on Twitter and search Keith Cannon on Facebook.
To learn more about the types of programs the Union County Public Library offers the community, visit http://www.co.union.nc.us/departments/library.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Local ministry prepares community for threat of war

Gabriela Cabrera, Staff Writer

MONROE –

The threat of war with North Korea is becoming increasingly real and a local thrift store in Monroe, NC is starting preparations to help the community by gathering clothing and farming materials needed if panic should arise.

Crystal Oliver, manager of Good Steward Ministries (GSM), sat down with her six employees at their monthly meeting, held Wednesday, Oct. 4, to discuss the possibility of North Korea invading U.S. soil and how they should plan.

“War seems almost inevitable and we want to be prepared,” she said. “We want the community to know that if something were to happen they can rely on Good Steward to help provide clothing and equipment needed to survive.”

Run mostly off of donated goods, the store is well-known for helping locals by offering an assortment of clothing, houseware items, books and shoes for an affordable price. Oliver wants to go one step further by making sure their supplies will last for the rush of people who may panic if North Korea invades the U.S.

Recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have exchanged heated words, causing worry in the U.S. that a war may break out. President Trump tweeted last weekend that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with Kim Jong-un.

The employees listened carefully to Oliver’s plan of slowly setting aside clothes in their storage rooms. GSM’s mission is to have clothing and farming material ready to be provided when other stores run out.

Oliver said that she knows that many people don’t want second-hand things, but when the time around she believes people will accept it.

“I think it’s great that Good Steward wants to look out for the community,” Raphaela Moore said. “We are family.”

This mindset in some of the employees sparked conversations and game plans for preparation.

Other employees, however, were more skeptical.

“There is no reason to prepare,” said employee Patrick Love. “America is completely equipped to stop any attack before it reaches our home.”

While the employees may be split on whether a war with North Korea may happen, they are still working together to prepare GSM for helping the community.

 Edited By: Cierra Smith and Harrison Taylor

What’s Your Story: Sherwood reflects on his time at Wingate

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

Since 1985, David Sherwood has served as the Sports Information Director at Wingate University. Sherwood resides in the same town where he has lived for his entire life and never had plans of going anywhere else. A graduate of nearby Forest Hills High School, Sherwood was granted the opportunity to go to another college besides Wingate, but chose to stay here after earning a full scholarship. The rest was history for the WU athletic department.

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Photo Source: Wingate Athletics

Over the last 32 years, Sherwood has enjoyed watching the campus grow including the school’s transition from a junior college to a four-year university. The Bulldog athletic department continues to provide its student-athletes, coaches, administration and fans with new facilities.

The new building that first came to mind for Sherwood is Cuddy Arena, which was established after the retirement of Sanders-Sykes Gymnasium where the WU basketball teams used to play their home games. The brand-new, state-of-the-art McGee Center is another new addition that has impressed Sherwood as another sign of Wingate’s rapid growth.

Being an NCAA Division II school, Wingate University is significantly smaller than many major Division I institutions with its small, yet growing student body. Sherwood sees many benefits of working at a smaller school rather than a larger one including “there is more opportunity to learn about people’s stories.” Building strong relationships with fellow colleagues and student-athletes are more great benefits of working at a small university, which Sherwood cherishes greatly.

For the last three decades, Wingate University athletics has seen tremendous success in many sports, but the memory that has stood the most was the opportunity to see the Bulldog men’s soccer team win its first National Championship in the athletic department’s illustrious history.

Going back further in time, another great memory for Sherwood was following the 1987-88 women’s basketball team when they won 33 straight games and advanced to the NAIA Final Four. Sherwood also covered the 2010 WU football team when they went to the NCAA Playoffs for the first time in 2010. He also remembers being at the game where Wingate defeated Morehouse in the first round and recalls the memory of how excited the school was when it happened.

In his illustrious tenure at Wingate, Sherwood has received multiple awards of recognition including winning the 2016 Lester Jordan Award last summer from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The Lester Jordan Award is presented annually to an individual for exemplary service to the Academic All-America® program and for promotion of the ideals of being a student-athlete.

He was also the recipient of the CoSIDA 25-year Award. Sherwood was also awarded the AVCA Grant Burger Media Award for the NCAA Division II Southeast Region in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

The AVCA Grant Burger Media Award is an honor intended to recognize members of the media who have been involved in the advancement of the sport of volleyball.

In 2007, he received the Wingate University Faith Award and the Wingate University Service Award from his peers. In 2003, Sherwood received the Bob Kenworthy Award from CoSIDA. The Kenworthy Award is given annually to a CoSIDA member for community involvement and accomplishments outside the sports information office.

The Bulldogs lead the state of North Carolina across all divisions of athletics in producing Academic All-Americans. He has spent 20-plus years on the Academic All-America® committee and a one-year stint on the Membership Services Committee. He has also been part of the Daktronics All-American and the NCCSIA All-State committees.

There have been many changes to Wingate University over the last three decades, but one thing has remained constant, David Sherwood. The dedication to his craft, the treatment of his student-athletes, love for Wingate and production of exemplary work is unmatched in collegiate athletics. Sherwood is the gold standard of Sports Information Directors regardless of any level and is loved by everyone in the community. Sherwood’s legacy still continues to this day as the WU athletic department continues to produce champions on and off the field of competition.

 

Edited by Brea Childs

Review: El Aguacate adds to Mexican restaurant choices in Monroe

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer

In Monroe alone, there are approximately seven Mexican restaurants. New Mexican restaurants open in Monroe often. I personally am an Mexican food enthusiast, so naturally when there’s a new Mexican restaurant I want to try it out.

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Photo Source: Yelp

Recently a new Mexican restaurant called El Aguacate opened up on E Roosevelt Blvd. and I decided to check it out.The restaurant has two separate entrances, the one on the right is for take out and the one on the left is for dine-in. The restaurant is pretty big on the inside, so there is a lot of room for sitting.

The business was very slow for a Sunday afternoon compared to other Mexican restaurants on Sunday afternoons when many people pile in after church for their Sunday fix.

It could be because it’s a new restaurant and business isn’t up to par yet, or it could be that it’s location is tucked away off of the Blvd. in a strip of stores connected to the Food Lion, which keeps it hidden.

So if you’re craving Mexican food on a Sunday afternoon and all the other Mexican restaurants have a long wait, El Aguacate will have a table available. Like many restaurants they bring you chips and salsa immediately when you’re seated, but what I really liked was that they also bring you a delicious complementary dip which is Queso mixed with refried beans.

Typically at Mexican restaurants I order a Pollo Con Crema or something similar to it, so I decided to also order it at El Aguacate to better compare it to other Mexican restaurants. The Pollo Con Crema is a plate that consists of marinated chicken strips covered with Queso and comes with a side of Rice and Refried Beans.

They also bring offer a choice of flour or corn tortilla shells with the meal so you can make your own burritos if you want, which I recommend. The mix of the Chicken, Rice, Beans, and Queso is the perfect mix.

The Pollo Con Crema at El Aguacate was $9.75, which is the average price at most Mexican restaurants. The overall pricing was average on the menu and they have different specials each day of the week.

On Sunday’s the special is the Burrito Acapulco, which is a burrito stuffed with Mexican rice, melted cheese, pinto beans, grilled mushrooms, and a creamy white sauce. On Monday’s, the specials are Enchildas, in which you get to choose an Enchilada from the menu for a discounted price. On Tuesday’s, the special is Chimichangas in which you choose the one you desire from the menu as well. Wednesday’s are taco nights. Thursday is fajita night. Friday’s special is the Pollo Con Crema, and Saturday is the Camarones Diabla, which is a garlic spice marinated with butter, grilled onions, and pepper.

It’s served with rice and salad. The menu also has a varied selection that is not limited to just Mexican food. El Aguacate also serves Seafood, Pork, Wings, and Pizza. They also have domestic and imported beers and tend to have specials on certain days for beer.

For instance, on Thursday’s along with the Fajita’s they also have $3.00 large beers. If you’re a sweet tea drinker and like your tea pretty sweet like I do, you’ll definitely like their tea. They also have other mixed drinks to choose from that run as specials certain days, they also serve smoothies, and of course Margarita’s.

The service was great and the owner even came over to check on us a couple of times as well. He was very nice and wanted to ensure that we had everything we needed.

El Aguacate is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday’s.

I was very pleased with this new restaurant and really recommend giving this place a shot.

Edited By: Brea Childs

Review: Hilltop brings culinary diversity and family fun to the Monroe-Wingate area

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

MONROE, N.C. – – – When going out to eat for a meal, do you consistently struggle with deciding what to get on the menu? Spiro’s Hilltop Fish Fare and Steakhouse may very well present this challenge; however, any food item you choose is guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.

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Photo Source: The Knot website

Since 1930, Hilltop has provided quality American, Italian, Seafood, and Greek dishes to the Union/Mecklenburg county area. When a customer walks in through the front doors, you instantly smell the combination of a very diverse menu this restaurant has to offer. Hilltop has something for everyone during all times of day.

Hilltop features a family friendly, welcoming atmosphere with multiple sectors of the restaurant that appeals to every type of person who prefers a particular dining experience. If you walk through the entrance and turn left, this room provides a quiet, calm atmosphere for small to large parties.

When walking to the right of the hostess stand, Hilltop brings a first-class bar/buffett area which features multiple TVs and a large projector screen to watch sports or the local news. Walk further to the back and down a spiral staircase, you will experience a lively bar area for people who want to watch their favorite sports team in a fun atmosphere. Again, Hilltop has something to appeal to every customer.

First time at Hilltop and looking for its specialties? All you need to do is read the full title of the restaurant and it will provide a clear indication of its best dishes. For steak lovers, try Hilltop’s signature steaks like the bone-in ribeye or the prime filet mignon. The steaks are cooked to perfection and are highly recommended for first-time visitors.

Not a fan of steaks? Customers could never go wrong with a solid assortment of signature fishes including Chilean sea bass, halibut, mahi mahi and grouper. Don’t worry, there are many other different fried, blackened or grilled fishes to choose from if you aren’t a fan of either of the aforementioned options.

Hilltop offers the same menu at lunch and dinner time, but the lunch crowd can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, paninis, wraps, soups and salads. The possibilities and combinations of menu options are almost endless.

Hilltop is one of those unique establishments that has you covered for all three meals of the day, including a delicious breakfast. The lunch and dinner crowds are much more popular (especially on weekends), but Hilltops provides all of the classic breakfast time favorites. Pancakes, omelettes, french toast, waffles, eggs and biscuits.

There are also many unique offerings like country ham biscuits, chicken biscuits, country fried steak, country fried ham, toasted bagels, and many more. The food options for all three meals are too many to list, so it’s best to check out the menu yourself because chances are good that you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Personally, there are very few negatives with Hilltop because of the many food choices, friendly service, family environment and the southern atmosphere. One downside is parking. If you decide to dine at Hilltop on a Friday or Saturday night and arrive at around 5:30-6:00 p.m., good luck finding a parking space. Sometimes customers get lucky and someone is leaving their space as they arrive,  but there is very little parking to accommodate everyone who comes to Hilltop.

However, the parking lot of nearby Southern States provides additional parking if the Hilltop lot fills up, but it’s quite a hike from there to the restaurant. Other than the bad parking options for vehicles, Hilltop is sure to be a satisfying experience for every customer looking for quality and southern fun.

Stars: 5

Reservations?: Yes. Reservations are required for parties greater than 15 people.

Atmosphere: A combination of noisy and quiet depending on what section of the restaurant you sit in.

Hours:

Breakfast – 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday until noon.

Rest of the day – 12 noon to 11 p.m.

Prices: Low to high depending on the food item.

Busiest times?: 6 to 9 p.m.

Time spent: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Size: Very large

Edited by: Brea Childs