I-77 Contractor Fined For Rush-Hour Lane Closures; Mint Hires LaRowe As Interim CEO

May 18, 2017

The NCDOT has fined the contractor building toll lanes on I-77 $1.36 million dollars for keeping lanes closed during morning rush hour Tuesday, in violation of the project contract.

In a letter to I-77 Mobility Partners Wednesday, NCDOT said overnight construction early Tuesday kept some lanes on I-77 northbound closed until 7:45 a.m. Ramps at both I-277 eastbound and westbound were closed until 8:05 a.m.

The contract restricts lane closures in the area to between 10pm and 5am. The construction work caused a major backup through uptown Tuesday morning.

The DOT levied a smaller $25,000 fine in March for a similar violation on I-77 North at I-277.

Spokeswoman Jean Leier of I-77 Mobility Partners provided a statement Thursday:  “We regret the traffic issues caused by the extended lane closures on Tuesday morning. We regularly review procedures with our lead contractor so that they follow proper protocols.”

Meanwhile, an NCDOT spokeswoman said Thursday the department is still considering whether to take action against the I-77 contractors for a construction accident last Friday, May 12, which backed up traffic all day on the interstate, as well as many side roads. 

The DOT has said a construction vehicle struck an overhead sign near Exit 31 in Mooresville early last Friday. To fix the damage, contractors had to close all but one lane for much of the day. At one point, traffic was backed up at least 12 miles, from Exit 31 in south Iredell County to I-485 in north Charlotte.

MINT HIRES AN INTERIM CEO

The Mint Museum has named a veteran Charlotte arts leader as interim CEO, to take over after Kathleen Jameson steps down next month. Bruce LaRowe was executive director of Children’s Theater of Charlotte for 20 years until 20-13.

It will be LaRowe’s second fill-in stint at the museum. He was interim director of learning and engagement two years ago. He starts the job June 21.

Jameson has been CEO since 2010, coming to the Mint from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

The Mint said it will begin a national search for her replacement.

Since 2013, LaRowe has been working with LevRidge Resources, a Charlotte firm that supplies interim leadership to nonprofits. The firm also recently has been helping the Mint develop a new three-year strategic plan. As interim CEO, he’ll work with other Mint leaders to refine the plan and run the museum during the CEO search.  

“The extensive track record of both Bruce LaRowe and LevRidge Resources in working with the Mint and other nonprofits in the community makes Bruce the perfect person to lead the Mint during this transition,” Mint board chair Weston Andress said in a statement Thursday. “Bruce knows the Mint well, he knows the cultural landscape both locally and nationally, and he is exceptionally highly regarded throughout Charlotte and beyond.”

MAN DIES OF INJURIES FROM NOVEMBER ASSAULT  A 46-year-old man seriously hurt during a November assault in east Charlotte has died of his injuries. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say they’re now investigating the incident as a murder.

Brian Fitzgerald Sherrell Faulkner was found lying beside a dumpster on Nov. 30, 2016, at the Plaza and 35th Street. He died Wednesday.

Police have not said how Faulkner died or whether they have any suspects. CMPD’s homicide unit is continuing to investigate.

 

AUDITOR CRITICAL OF MENTAL HEALTH AGENCY

North Carolina's auditor says a large managed care mental health agency that serves 20 counties spent excessively on salaries for top executives, conferences and Christmas parties. 

The Associated Press reports that State Auditor Beth Wood released the review Thursday, saying Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions made $1.2 million in unauthorized salary payments to CEOs since 2014.

Wood also accuses Cardinal of unreasonable spending on board retreats, meetings and travel ... totaling more than $250,000. One Christmas party cost more than $18,000.  

Cardinal vehemently disagreed with the findings. The company says in a written response that it followed the law and that the CEO pay was allowed under its annual salary plan accepted by state officials.

GOVERNOR CRITICIZES FOOD STAMPS CUT

Gov. Roy Cooper is criticizing a state budget provision by Senate Republicans that his administration says would block federal food stamp benefits to over 130,000 people because they're also receiving other government benefits. The change approved in the budget last week would roll back eligibility requirements for what's called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which expanded during the Recession.  Under the provision, households making no more than slightly above the federal poverty level would qualify.  Republican Sen. Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine says the change seeks to ensure the neediest people receive the food benefit.  The provision wasn't discussed during Senate floor debate on the budget.  Cooper says the food assistance doesn't cost any state tax money.