It’s game day in Charlotte. The Carolina Panthers host their first home playoff game in 5 years Sunday afternoon at Bank of America stadium – facing the San Francisco 49ers at 1 o’clock. The Panthers won their meeting in Week 10 of the season at San Francisco, a low-scoring game that ended 10 to 9. After last week off, the Panthers are 12-4 and have won six of their last seven games. The 49ers also are 12-4. The stakes today are high: The winner goes to the NFC Championship game against Seattle. The Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints yesterday, 23 to 15.
And the Panthers and 49ers will have good weather for their playoff. The forecast was calling for sunny skies with a high around 58. (Listen to Friday's "Charlotte Talks," which included a conversation with local sports reporters previewing the Panthers-49ers game.")
OBAMA TO VISIT NC WEDNESDAY
President Barack Obama will visit North Carolina this week, for what aides are calling “an event on the economy.” He reportedly will give a speech at N.C. State University on Wednesday. Obama made two visits to the state in 2013. Last June, he discussed plans to change the nation's classrooms into digital learning centers during a visit to a Mooresville school. He also visited Asheville last February.
ELEVATION OPENS AT LAKE NORMAN
Elevation Church is opening its new campus in Cornelius with services this weekend. Our news partner CorneliusNews.net reports that the new Elevation Lake Norman opens after $10 million project to convert the former Palace Theater for worship. The church includes a new 1,200-seat auditorium – the largest of its kind north of Charlotte. It’s the 10th location for the Matthews-based congregation, one of the fastest-growing churches in the U.S. Church leaders say the new campus will accommodate growth in the Lake Norman area. Elevation says more than 14,000 people attend its weekly services.
JORDAN DIPLOMA AND LETTERS AUCTIONED
Michael Jordan's University of North Carolina diploma and recruiting letters from coach Dean Smith are being auctioned this weekend. The Charlotte Observer reports that the items once hung on the wall of Michael Jordan's 23 restaurant in Chapel Hill and have been in storage since it closed in 2003. Jordan now owns the Charlotte Bobcats. Goldin Auctions says the opening bid on the diploma is $7,500, and the Smith letter starts at $5,000. Bidding continues through Feb. 7 at www.goldinauctions.com.
CRASH IN RAIN KILLS DRIVER
This weekend’s heavy rains claimed at least one life in the Charlotte area. A 33-year-old driver died Saturday morning in a crash around 10:30 on Yorkmont Road in Charlotte. Surya Akula was headed west in heavy rain when his 2001 Toyota Camry ran off the right side of the road and struck a utility pole. Three other passengers also were injured. Police say neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the wreck.
CITY SETTLES WITH FAMILY OF SHOOTING VICTIM
The city of Charlotte has agreed to pay $700,000 to the family of a Stanly County man whom police shot and killed as he repaired a cell phone tower in 2006. The City Council approved the settlement during a closed session last week, according to The Charlotte Observer Forty-one-year-old Anthony Wayne Furr was working on a tower at around 1 a.m. July 20, 2006, when someone called police to report a suspicious vehicle. Three officers responded. Police said Furr pulled out a gun and did not obey commands to put it down. An officer fired three times, hitting Furr twice in the chest.
A man has been sentenced to prison in the 2012 shooting death of former major league outfielder Danny Clyburn Jr. in his South Carolina hometown. The Herald of Rock Hill reports that 38-year-old Derrick Lamont McIlwain was sentenced to 15 years Friday after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Police found the 37-year-old Clyburn lying in the front yard of his home at around 2 a.m. in February 2012. McIlwain was originally charged with murder. Clyburn was a second-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992 and played parts of three seasons in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the late 1990s.