Ben Bradford

Reporter

Ben Bradford is a city kid, who came to Charlotte from San Francisco by way of New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Prior to his career in journalism, Ben spent time as an actor, stuntman, viral marketer, and press secretary for a Member of Congress. He graduated from UCLA in 2005 with a degree in theater and from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. As a reporter, his work has been featured on NPR, WNYC, the BBC, and Public Radio International.

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Local News
8:37 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Defense Industry Starts To Feel The Sequester

Cleveland County defense contractor, Ultra Machines and Fabrication, will lay off as many as 100 employees in May due to cuts in federal contracts. It could be the first in a rising wave of job losses related to the sequester.

In the last three years, Ultra’s received $46 million in federal contracts—what that business, and most defense contractors rely on. But as the sequester and other federal budget cuts kick in, those contracts are drying up.

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Local News
11:14 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Critic Of Charter Schools Speaks At UNCC

Diane Ravitch

A prominent critic of charter schools, standardized testing, and private influence on education spoke at UNC Charlotte Wednesday evening. UNCC paid Diane Ravitch $20,000 to appear at the campus’ McKnight Auditorium in front of about 100 teachers, students, and community activists.


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Local News
1:52 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Rowan County Commission To Fight ACLU Over Prayer

Rowan County commissioners decided Monday to continue opening their meetings with a prayer, despite a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has argued the prayers are unconstitutional and violate the separation of church and state.

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Business
10:08 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Start-Ups Struggle To Find Local Investment

Viddlz founder, Zerrick Bynum, completed the Revtech Labs incubator program in October.
Credit Viddlz.com

When it comes to start-up technology businesses, let’s just say Charlotte is no Silicon Valley. The local start-up scene has made some recent strides, though. Packard Place in Uptown has emerged as a hub for technology entrepreneurs and last year launched RevTech Labs, a program offering space and support for early-stage companies. The first group graduated five months ago, but they’ve struggled to attract local investors—a common complaint of Charlotte start-ups.

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Business
11:49 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Lots Of Unknowns On Fracking's Future In North Carolina

Hardly a factor a decade ago, shale gas is projected to account for half of total natural gas production in the U.S. by 2040.
Credit U.S. Energy Information Administration

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—for natural gas in shale rock has radically changed the nation’s energy mix. Since the fracking boom began in 2008, the cost of natural gas has plummeted and supply has surged. The technique is banned in North Carolina, but a bill that passed last year and another currently making its way through the legislature would open the door.

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Local News
4:35 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Concealed Carry In Meck Parks Set For Commission Vote

The Mecklenburg County Commission will vote to allow concealed carrying of handguns at local parks, including Freedom Park. The playground and athletic fields will be exempted.
Credit cheriejoyful / Flickr

Concealed handguns could soon be allowed in Mecklenburg county parks and recreational areas.

The county doesn’t really have a choice.  A state law last year allowed concealed carry in parks, and the county commission will vote Tuesday night to put Mecklenburg in compliance.

Parks Operations Director Jeff Robinson explains the gist of the law: “It’s okay to carry a handgun as long as you have a permit, unless you’re at a playground, an athletic field, a swimming pool, or an athletic facility.”

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Local News
1:53 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Inexperienced Teachers A Booming Trend

NaToya Dingle talks to a group of her 8th-grade biology students at Coulwood Middle School.
Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE

The push for high-performing college graduates and non-teachers from other professions to enter the classroom has reached an all-time high in the past few years. Proponents of “alternative entry” see it as a fast way to send motivated, knowledgeable instructors into schools—particularly high needs schools and subjects like math and science—but their inexperience and high turnover rate has drawn fire from critics.

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Developing
1:13 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Vote Set For City Manager; Observer Reports Ron Carlee Offered Job

Charlotte city manager candidate Ron Carlee meets and mingles at a reception Wednesday night.
Credit Jeff Willhelm / Charlotte Observer

It appears that Charlotte City Council has chosen its next city manager, at least informally.

The Charlotte Observer reports that council has offered the job to Ron Carlee, a former county manager in Arlington, Virginia. And city spokeswoman Kim McMillan says council plans a vote during Monday’s meeting.

Here’s Carlee speaking at reception earlier Wednesday:

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Local News
9:18 am
Thu February 21, 2013

No Decision On City Manager As Council Stays Up Late Discussing Candidates

Ron Carlee

The Charlotte City Council stalled Wednesday night in the final stage of its search for a new city manager. 

The Council stayed in a closed session until past midnight, deliberating on which of three remaining candidates will take over what’s arguably the city’s most powerful job.

After four hours of debate, the council had no decision to report.

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Local News
12:00 am
Sun February 17, 2013

Customs Desk Could Bring More Corporate Jets To Monroe

Officials at the Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport expect more corporate air fleets will land on the tarmac, once the airport can accept international flights.
Credit Kenneth Lu/Flickr

Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport will begin constructing a customs building, and that could be a business boon for Union County.

No place in the Carolinas has more aerospace companies than Monroe.

“Those companies do a lot of international work,” says North Carolina Aviation Director Richard Walls. “So, being able to bring flights and cargo directly into Monroe allows all of that cargo to get into those factories and into those aerospace companies much more quickly and much more efficiently.”

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