The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 22, 2008 · B1
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina · B1

Charlotte, North Carolina
Issue Date:
Friday, August 22, 2008
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Saturday, August 23, 2008 ••• SECTION B Local&State NEW PRINCIPAL Arts leader from West Virginia has been tapped to lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Northwest School of the Arts. 2B TODAY AT 5:30 Tie Dye Hippy NOVEL MURDER THEORY: THE OWL DID IT Former neighbor says evidence points to owl attack in death of novelist’s wife. 4B Ashante Mayfield was more than a statis- tic. Her aunt remembers a 14-year-old with a smile that could charm. “She loved jewelry and lip gloss, getting her hair done, like any other little girl,” Deb- orah Mayfield said. If she couldn’t express herself by speaking, she would get a pencil and paper and write down her innermost thoughts, said Mayfield. Ashante Mayfield never got to celebrate her 15th birthday. On Tuesday, she was shot and killed in a seeming- ly trivial dispute. After several days, the 19-year-old woman accused of the crime turned herself in. Already, Ashante’s life has been re- duced to cliché: runaway, teenage mom, victim. Deborah Mayfield thinks about those headlines, and she can’t sleep at night. To the aunt who loved her only niece, “She’s being killed again.” Ashante called her at 3 a.m. about two weeks ago. “Hey, Aunt Deb,” Mayfield recalls her saying. “I’m going to turn my- self in. I’m ready to go back to school.” May- field can still hear Ashante’s hopeful voice, promising – like teenagers ev- erywhere – to do better, for herself and her 6-month-old son, Christo- pher Thoman Mayfield. “I’m serious this time.” Mayfield offered to pick Ashante up, but Ashante – who had run away from foster and group homes over the last two years – wouldn’t say exactly where she was. Then, Ashante asked how her son was doing, and asked her aunt to take some pictures of him, just for her. “Those pictures are still in my pocketbook,” Mayfield said on Friday. She said of Ashante, “I can’t imag- ine what that baby was going through.” She talked about the girl with the nicknames: “Toot Loop,” given to her by Deborah Mayfield’s mom, Ash- ante’s grandmother, because it seemed to fit; and “Tuck In,” because Ashante, “a neat girl,” didn’t like to leave her blouse hanging out. Ashante could quote Scripture, Mayfield said, and would go to church – “night revival, weekend revival” – whenever she could catch a ride. Mayfield, 52, a West Charlotte grad- uate, is former owner of a therapeutic massage business here. She moved back a little over a year ago from Los Angeles where she worked in com- mercial real estate for 15 years and lived for 30 years. But Mayfield spent vacations in Charlotte and kept in touch with her niece through her own daughter Latavia Mayfield. The family would do things togeth- er, go horseback riding and visit the IN MY OPINION MARY C. CURTIS Ashante was a teenage girl, not just a statistic A. Mayfield ARREST MADE Vanessa Hines, a suspect in Ashante Mayfield’s death, turns herself in, 3B. SEE CURTIS , 3B Bruce Henderson Homeowners most often complain that Duke Energy contractors whacked too much of their trees to keep them away from power lines. Tom and Bonnie Wojcik have the opposite problem – untrimmed trees, touching a type of line Duke no longer installs, have sparked three fires in their heavily wooded Wedding- ton neighborhood since 2000. The most recent, on Aug. 6, torched a fallen oak and scorched the ground in a 90-by-60-foot patch of woods in Wellington Woods, south of Charlotte. The downed tree had touched a power line, causing the fire. Power lines in the neighborhood use an in- sulated “heavy wall wire” that is designed to run through areas of dense vegetation. But Duke says it stopped using the material in the 1980s because it didn’t work very well. The Wojciks suspect the lines actually in- crease the fire hazard. The polymer insulation melts when branches rub, they say, and drops to the ground like hot candle wax. Electric discharges arc from the line “when- ever any twig touches it, even the size of your finger,” said Bonnie Wojcik, who has dogged Duke to clear a 30-foot-wide power line corri- dor for four years. “The coating gets red hot.” Sections of bare wire are visible on the lines where fires started in 2000, 2004 and this month. None did structural damage. Duke says heavy wall wire is no more dan- gerous than the bare, uninsulated wire it now uses. “We don’t typically see that many of that type of fire,” said spokesman Andy Thomp- son. “It’s more typical to see a brush fire, more often singed limbs where they have brushed up against a line. We felt like (the latest fire) would have occurred whether it had fallen on that wire or a bare wire.” But following neighborhood complaints, PHOTOS BY JOHN D. SIMMONS – Bonnie Wojcik looks over charred remains of a brush fire behind her home that started in 2004 after tree branches came in contact with high voltage power lines. A more recent fire rekindled residents’ worries about lines and branches. Residents flip script on Duke, rap tree cover Power lines blamed for foliage fires; utility says it’ll clear away potential problem This wire is one that started a brush fire in May 2004 behind Bonnie Wojcik’s home. The fire melted the coating around the wire. SEE POWER, 4B By Eric Frazier Expect a big groan this fall when North Carolina trots out results of its newly recalibrated reading tests. Higher cutoff scores are expected to bring lower student pass rates. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the tougher scoring will give officials a good sense of how well or poorly the first year went under their intensive new K-3 reading program. Expect more tinkering with reading instruc- tion as the school system tries to get achievement levels back up. “We’re very eager to see our read- ing scores,” said Ruth Perez, chief ac- ademic officer for CMS. “Anytime you raise the bar, you always see a drop in scores. But we will continue to reach for benchmarks and above benchmarks.” Improving instruction in reading and math is always one of the school system’s top priorities. Schools test the literacy levels of all K-3 students and then provide as much as 240 minutes of extra reading instruction, depending on need. At the secondary level, schools “double block” the schedules of struggling readers, re- placing electives with extra reading classes. Recently released results of the state’s “ABC” school ratings system gave CMS officials cause for opti- mism. The tests showed 77.8 percent of CMS schools met or exceeded stu- dent-progress targets in 2007-08. The previous year, 67.5 percent did. The scores didn’t include the still- to-be-released reading scores, a fact that irritated an otherwise-pleased Superintendent Peter Gorman. He noted that schools this year will be forced to place students at the proper reading levels without benefit of the BACK TO SCHOOL T R E N D S TO WATC H I N 2 0 0 8 - 0 9 Schools brace for reading scores Tougher standard means more students may not pass. But rising overall success rate gives CMS cause for optimism. BACK TO SCHOOL 2008-09 Read earlier installments of the Observer’s back-to-school series on issues to watch in 2008-09: TIPS FOR SUCCESS 8 things you can do to make your child’s school year a good one. 3B SEE READING, 3B By Wade Rawlins (Raleigh) News & Observer CAPE HATTERAS — Turtles are crawl- ing ashore and laying eggs on this windy elbow of sand in record num- bers. The number of sea turtle nests is up all along the state’s coast this year, but the increase at the Cape Hatteras Na- tional Seashore is roughly twice the overall state increase. A rare green turtle laid the 111th nest Thursday. That’s good news for threatened loggerheads and other sea turtles. But as eggs near hatching, it means anoth- er flurry of beach closings and a new round of frustration as the popular fall fishing season gets under way. “It’s a balancing act between peo- ple and turtles,” said Michelle Baker Bogardus, sea turtle biologist with the U.S. Park Service. “We have an obliga- tion as a park to allow people on the beach. With 111 nests, we’re facing a tough fall season.” The seashore covers 67 miles of sandy beaches on Hatteras and Ocra- coke islands, providing some of the best fishing on the coast. Bird and turtle nests protected A legal settlement – agreed to by the park service, environmental groups and local interests – requires that stretches of the seashore be off- limits to recreation during bird and turtle nesting seasons to protect threatened and declining species. This time of year, the focus shifts from birds, which have mostly flown, to turtles, which will hatch through October. As of this week, about 80 of the 111 nests had yet to hatch. The agreement banned nighttime beach driving in off-road vehicles from May 1 until mid-September. To accommodate fall fishing, fishermen will be allowed to drive on the beach at night by permit from Sept. 16 through Nov. 15. But turtles typically crawl ashore at night to lay eggs, and hatchlings emerge at night. To guard against dis- turbance, closed areas around turtle nests that are near hatching will be ex- panded from dune to ocean starting in mid-September, temporarily cutting off some sections of beach. Popular fishing spots cut off Larry Hardham, a local angler who has spent hundreds of hours as a vol- unteer patrolling for turtle nests at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, said he loves turtles but is frustrated by the additional fall closures. “There are a lot of people who feel this is not about science,” Hardham CHUCK LIDDY – (RALEIGH) NEWS & OBSERVER PHOTO NPS turtle technician Eric Frey holds a turtle hatchling at Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Thursday. Fertile turtles frustrate fishermen More Hatteras beaches are closed to driving as growing numbers of sea turtles lay fragile eggs in the sand. SEE TURTLES, 4B

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