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Cabarrus Magazine

'Up Front' Celebrates First Anniversary!

Mar 02, 2020 01:12PM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode: Our First Anniversary Celebration!

Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. I'm your host, Jason Huddle, and it's our very first anniversary edition! Awww, thanks, guys. You shouldn't have!  
Hello and welcome once again to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. We are officially one year old and I want to take a moment just to thank you, the listeners and of course, our sponsors for making this milestone possible. We certainly couldn't have done it without you. And we have had a lot of fun over the last 12 months producing this podcast. We've gotten to talk to a lot of people. We've talked to Congressmen, we've talked to national sports celebrities. We have talked to everyday people. We've just talked to the gambit. It's been a great run for so far, and we are so thrilled that you have been along with us for the ride. So what I thought that we do today is we have taken a look back and looked at all our stats to see what episodes have been the most popular with you guys, the listeners. Which ones have gotten the most downloads and have seemed to garner the most interest. And so what we've done was we picked out three segments from those shows and we're going to play them for you today, so today's show might be a little bit longer than normal. We hope you'll stick with us, but we've got some serious stuff. We got some fun stuff to play for you. You guys really like a wide variety of shows, whether we're talking about scandal or we're talking about serious issues like mental health or we're talking or we're just having a little fun on the program. You guys really seem to like everything we do. So it was hard to pick which segments we would play, but I think we've got it narrowed down and we're gonna get those for you today. But before we do that, we of course have to do a shameless plug time.  
So just this week I've received a number of requests from organizations interested in getting their events on our calendar, which is printed in Cabarrus Magazine every month, for non profits were happy to do that, provided we have the space, we're happy to get those events in if we can. But I wanted to go ahead and give some instruction because I've had to do this several times. Like I said over the past week, If you have an event and you are a non profit organization, our best suggestion is to get those events to us by the first week of the month prior that the event happens. In other words, if you have a May event, get us the event information by the end of the first week of April. That way, that gives us plenty of time to get your event into the calendar. If you wait until closer to the date we go to press, we may or may not have the room for it. But if you get it to us the first week of April, you're pretty much guaranteed that we'll be able to fit in at that point. If you are a for profit organization that is putting on event, there is a charge for that, so just give us a call at 7047822353 And let us know what the event is, and we could talk about costs with you. It's not very much. It's pretty nominal fee. Also, you can email us information at P, as in Penny R, as in Robert at That's [email protected] Send us your events that way. That is the best way to send information, whether it be calendar events or press releases or anything like that. That's the best way to get that information to us. But you can also post your events for free at We have a community counter and you're welcome to jump on there. All you have to do is register. It's free to do that, and then you can post your event for free on If you're a nonprofit, please let us know we will upgrade that event to featured at no additional charge. So, You can get your events on right now for profit or nonprofit. Doesn't matter. You can get your event listed for free on a calendar, and you could do that yourself or send us your events at [email protected] for consideration in getting into the print edition of the magazine, and that is this week's shameless plug time.  
So, as I said before, it was hard to decide what we would play for you to commemorate our first anniversary. When we come back from the break, we will have the most downloaded segment of the year, and it's all about a scandal. Can you guess what it is? Stick around and find out. We'll see you in just a few minutes. 
Welcome back to our first anniversary edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. So we had several popular episodes throughout the course of the year. But there was one episode that got more downloads by far than any other, and it involved a scandal. The episode was called How Cabarrus County Got Scammed. If you recall, I'll set this up for you. Cabarrus County was swindled out of over $2 million by some imposters posing as a construction firm, and so far the county has only gotten a fraction of that money. Back when the news broke, I immediately gave a call to County Commissioner Steve Morris, and he was very gracious and sitting down with us. So right now we're gonna play our most downloaded segment of the year. Our interview with Commissioner Steve Morris when how Cabarrus County got scammed. Take a listen to this,  
Commissioner Morris, thank you so much for coming on today.  
My pleasure, Jason. Glad to glad to talk with you.
So let's let's talk about how this happened. First of all, obviously, I'm sure there are lots of protocols and things that you have to go through. I know I've done business with the county. And so I've had to go through protocols in order to get paid. Right? So how does this happen where somebody's basically cons the county out of two and a half million dollars?
Yeah, it's a pretty sophisticated process. I think, initially, these folks contacted the school system through an email. The school system directed them to the county, telling them that the county makes all these payments. Of course, they represented themselves as being with this construction firm that's constructing the new West Cabarrus High School. Those folks subsequently contacted the county, told them that they needed to make some make changes to their banking information. And of course, you gotta understand. I'm telling all of this to you the way I understand it, which hopefully is accurate. But then the county gave them instructions as to what forms would have to be filled out. What signatures would have to be received in those sorts of things in order to make any kind of a change? They responded with those documents signed, um, by, or represented themselves to be principles of, that firm. The names were all correct. The letterhead was all correct. The -
So these guys have done their homework.
Oh, absolutely. And the e mails that came from an address that appeared to be a domain of that company. And so this was not a - This was not a bunch of high school kids playing around. This is a very sophisticated, well thought out scam that unfortunately, was not caught.
Was it not caught because we simply rely too much on digital communication and no one talks on the phone anymore. I mean, if somebody had and I'm not pointing fingers, but I'm saying if somebody had happened to pick up the phone and call this firm and say, Is this correct? This whole thing might have been avoided.  
I think that that is entirely possible. And unfortunately, in policies and procedures and protocol used by the county, that step was not one of those that had to be checked off the list and very possibly had that happen. You may be correct. That may have averted it. Or even had there been something questionable about the information that they provided that would have caused an employee to pick up the phone and say, you failed to fill out this section or you fail to give us this information. Any little item like that would have potentially caught something. Unfortunately, they were so meticulous in the way that they filled out the documentations and signed and so forth that did not occur. But you are correct that that could have averted the problem.
So do we have any leads on who this was or any chance of catching them?  
Well, to the best of my knowledge, no. There have been extensive investigations and those are ongoing, of course. We started out with local law enforcement with our sheriff's department. They called in the FBI, which took the case, and they have worked it since that time. The amount of funds that have already been recovered were a result of that investigation between the several banks that were involved in the FBI, the Sheriff's Department. And so there - it's entirely possible that they may have additional information that they could offer. But at this point that has not been shared with us or the things that have been shared with us. We have not been given permission to release, which obviously we do not want to in any way impede the investigation, as they continue to try to see if more funds can be recovered.
It's about 800,000 that's been recovered. At this point?
I think it's actually 700. And some odd
I was rounding up -
It's getting close to 800,000.
Okay, so a 800,000. How do we - How did we get that back? I mean, I know you said you coordinated with some banks, but how do you only get part of it back? I'm trying to wrap my head around that.
When our bank contacted the bank that the funds have been transferred to, at that point in time, there was still, if I understand correctly, some funds remaining in that account. So they immediately froze those funds. Then there were some funds, and the funds have been sent out many, many different (innaudible). And so I think they traced down each one of those leads and they were able to locate one or two of those, and freeze those funds -
Before they got closed down, right?
Right. It's all the other fingers of where it went that that still remain.
The unfortunate Catch 22 in an operation like this is, once you freeze the primary account, where these funds were transferred. You signal that, Okay, we're onto you. And so they're going to start clearing all the other accounts that they had.
I feel very sure that that is true. Yes.
Once again, I want to thank Cabarrus County Commissioner Steve Morris for coming back on the show back over the summer and sitting down with this once again. The episode was called How Cabarrus County Got Scammed. So if you want to hear the entire interview, you can go on to, click on our podcast page, and listen to that episode in its entirety. Coming up next. We've tackled a lot of serious issues on this show. We tackled education. We tackled political issues. As you just heard, we even tackled a scandal. But one of our most popular, actually a two-part series was on mental health. And when we come back from break, we're gonna play us segment from our interview with the Mental Health Association, in which they give you some great information on what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you have a family member who is dealing with a mental health issue. Please stay tuned for this next segment. You're not gonna wanna miss it.
Welcome back. So, as I said before the break, last May, to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month and to go along with our issue that month, we actually ended up doing a two-part series on mental health awareness. We had only planned to do one show on the subject, but we received so much response from the community that we were inclined to continue the discussion because there was more we had to talk about. The Mental Health Association M H A, which is based out of Mecklenburg County but also serves Cabarrus County, was gracious enough to come in and talk to us a little bit about what you can do to help those who are dealing with mental health challenges. Please take a listen.
I am pleased to have in is our final guest on this topic. Erika Ellis-Stewart. She's with the Mental Health America of Central Carolina's. She's the education and advocacy program coordinator, That is a mouthful of a title. So I commend you on that one. They got to come up with some kind of acronym or something for that. But Erika, first of all, thank you for being on the podcast today.
Oh, you're very welcome. I'm so glad to be here today.
So first of all, tell us about Mental Health America of Central Carolina's. What it is you guys do? And then, of course, your specific role within that organization.  
So MHA is a hidden gem. We've actually been around since 1933, back when our name was the Mental Hygiene Society. The fact that our name has changed from Mental Hygiene Society to Mental Health America shows just some of the progress that we've made. But we still have a lot more to go in terms of fixing our mental health system. My roll there at MHA is really about how do we educate our community so that folks have an increased sense of mental health literacy? And what I mean by that is that they have a better understanding of what does it look like when someone may be struggling with mental health? What are the signs and symptoms? But more importantly, what do they do? What can I do as a person who - I don't have a clinical background, I'm not a medical person. What can I do to assist someone to support them and then to learn about where the resource is in the community so that they can get that person connected to the next leg of support? Yes, my title is a mouthful, so I spent quite a bit of my time out with community training, teaching classes, coordinating community conversations to provide a safe space for people to have these discussions. But the other part of my work is really centered around advocacy, because we know that so many people are facing mental health challenges. We know that one in five and our country will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. That's about 44 million people across the country. We know that suicide rates are on the increase across our country. About 47,000 people each year die by suicide. If you compare that to only about 22,000 die by homicide, we really need to focus on getting people to have more information and more tools. But also the advocacy piece really is about how do we impact systems legislative systems, but also how individuals can advocate for themselves and creating folks who have the tools to do that.
Just in hearing you talk, I have questions. We had last week with us on, uh, on with this Dr. Sandra Milling. She's with Cabarrus Rowan Community Health Centers. And she talked about these very things about being an advocate, not only for yourself, but even for a loved one. And we also talked about support. And what are some symptoms? What are some things to look for? So we're gonna get into that here over the next few minutes. First of all, real quick before we do. your offic is in Charlotte. What counties do you serve?
So, Mental. Health America Central Carolina's, we actually serve Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County. Um, and we've been really blessed. We're a non profit organization funded by grants and individuals and all of the trainings that we offer mental health fist aid, qpr suicide prevention de-escalation. We offer those free of charge throughout the community. So we don't want the cost of a course to be a barrier for people getting the information so anywhere in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus, we are there.
That's an awesome mission, and thank you for that. So let's talk about advocacy. How does one go about being an advocate? Because, as we talked about last week, it just seems like people who are dealing with this There's such a stigma that they don't want to talk about it, or when they do, people blow them off like you're just going through a rough patch, you need to get through it. What is your advice to someone who is dealing it with that kind of situation?
Well, I think that's why the education component of our work is so important, because often times people will just say, Oh, you're depressed. It's all in your head. Oh, well, maybe you need to pray more. Or maybe you need to do this and not recognizing that mental health concerns our health issues when someone's dealing with a mental health issue. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia. Individuals have physical symptoms. They have psychological symptoms. They have behavioral symptoms. Typically, most people are only going to talk about their physical symptoms. I've got a headache. My stomach hurts. My back aches. They don't talk about. I was crying for three hours last night. I haven't showered in the last three days. I'm hearing voices. And so to break the stigma, we've got to start talking about mental health and suicide as regularly as we would talk about heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer so that it becomes more normalized because the prevalence is there. One in five. That's significant. So if you count off 12345 people sitting right beside you today in your work, at your church, at your school, someone is impacted. And so having those conversations and creating a normalcy is really, really important. We know that individuals who are living with a mental health condition or may be experiencing symptoms again that one in five, that 44 million, only 40% seek help each year. So that means we've got close to 60% of people who are not seeking help, largely due to stigma. They don't want to be labeled. They don't want to be discriminated against. They don't want to be thought of as different. And so we really, as a community, have a ways to go. We also need to change our language. Language is critically important. We often use diagnoses as adjectives and nouns. Oh, she schizo today. Oh, she didn't take her medicine. She's bipolar, and we throw those terms around, and that's not what we should be doing. If, first of all, when you see someone and you just disagree with their behaviors, you can't automatically assume that they're having some sort of mental health condition. But for those who are when we talk about it in that way, we further stigmatize them. And so saying things like that person lives with depression, that person is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder as opposed to saying, "Oh, you are such and such" because we're not using person-first or person-centered language at that point. And we're seeing that person only as their diagnosis. You would never say to someone who was diabetic. Oh, you're so diabetic today, right? But we do that all the time when we utilize mental health diagnoses in that way.
Absolutely. We talked about that last week as well, and in fact, I'll say I said this last week. I'm gonna say it again. This is a fight for your life, just like any other disease. It is a fight for your life. And so I appreciate again the work you're doing. Real quick before we have to end the segment, I wanted to talk to you about training. You guys do lots of training and in fact, uh, Sergeant Flagg, who was in here in the last segment, he talked about some of the training that the CMPD officers get, and you guys provide some of that training. So tell us about that. What training is available that you're doing for law enforcement and then also what is available for everyday people?
So we teach several courses. One in particular is Mental Health First Aid. It's an eight hour course. It's designed for community members, and they're a variety of modules. So we have an adult version for folks who want to find out. What does it look like when mental health begins to present in an adult? We have one that's for youth, and the youth version is for adults who work with children and adolescents. Whether it's a parent, a teacher, social worker, we do teach public safety. And so MHA has had the pleasure of teaching all of the CMPD officers and the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department, all of their deputies. And then last summer, we actually had the opportunity to teach all of the firefighters with Charlotte Fire Department. And so we teach veterans. And so, really, this eight hour course is how do I recognize the signs and symptoms? It gives you a five step action plan on how you can assist as a lay person and then really begins to introduce you to what are the resource is locally. We also teach QPR, which is similar to CPR, and that stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. And it's a suicide prevention course. It's about a 90 minute session, and it shows What does it look like when someone maybe having suicidal thoughts? Because I think we all think we know what it looks like, but it can present very differently and so making sure people have that background. And then again, what can I do to intervene in? What are the resources?
Erika Ellis-Stewart with Mental Health America of Central Carolina's, real quick before I go to break, how can someone get in touch with you guys if they feel like they need Your services
Absolutely. So they can call the office 704-365-3454. Or you could visit our website, which is www. M, as in Mary. H as in Hank, A as in Apple, Central Carolinas, with an s, dot org. So,, or just Google Mental Health America. We're likely to be the number one thing that pops up.
Erika, thanks so much for your contribution to our community and the work you're doing with mental health awareness. And we appreciate what you do.
Wow. Some powerful information and certainly valuable information that we got from the MHA, and we certainly thank them for coming on the show last May. When we come back, our final, most popular segment of the year, and it involves a ghost? Stay tuned.
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, Our first anniversary celebration episode. So, at Halloween we had a lot of fun with setting up sort of, ah, ghost story radio hour feel. I wanted to take you, the listeners, back to the time before television, when people gathered around their radios and they used the theater of the mind to tell stories. It was a lot of fun putting together that episode, and you guys responded by downloading it. I guess you were playing it on Halloween night. I'm not really sure, but apparently it was pretty popular, so I'm gonna give you one of the stories from that episode. It's called The Maco Lights. Enjoy our ghost host.
Welcome back. It seems you are brave enough to stick around. Our next story is called the Maco Lights. It takes place just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina. In the years immediately following the Civil War, the railroad was king, and if the railroad was king, it's prince was the conductor. The engineer might have gotten to sit up front, blow the whistle and drive the train, but he couldn't move that train one inch until the conductor told him to. Joe Baldwin had always wants to be a conductor. One day he finally realized his life long dream when he was hired to be a conductor on the Wilmington and Manchester line, The W and M stretched from the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina, westward to Columbia, South Carolina, then down to Charleston, a town that Joe never tired of visiting. The beautiful homes, the water, the huge helpings of fried chicken and sweet potato pie that his friends cooked for him. It made his mouth water just thinking about it. Joe would appear at work every morning, smartly turned out in his clean dressed black pants, starched white showed black leather vest, and expertly tied bow tie. On top of his head was a conductor's hat with the medallion on the front that glistens like gold in the sunlight and read, "conductor". He always carried his lantern with him, along with the ticket punch. And, of course, his railroad watch. For, it was with that watch that Joe made his train run on time. Joe took very good care of his trains. Several times during the run, Joe would walk from one in the train together, checking everything he could think of. He would check the wheels and see if foreign objects from the tracks were stuck up in them. He would check the box cars to make sure they were properly locked. He would make sure the passengers had everything they needed and that there was always enough oil for the lamps, so they would burn out in the night. One stormy night as they were traveling through the swampy woods, near Maco, North Carolina, just a few miles west of Wilmington, Joe was back in the caboose, resting. He had just completed his rounds and wanted to take a short break before they reached South Carolina. Dreams of Charleston danced in his head, as the Clickety clack of train wheels lulled him to sleep. Suddenly, the train started slowing down, and Joe instinctively woke up in a flash. Joe immediately got worried, for he knew it wasn't time for a stop yet. He jumped up ran to the front of the caboose, opened up the door and stepped out for the next coach. But there was no next coach! (Laughs) Joe was horrified to see the caboose he was riding in had somehow become uncoupled from the rest of the train. Somewhere in the distant darkness, the rest of his beloved train had left him behind. Joe knew he was in trouble because right behind his train he knew that a fast freight would soon be approaching. Joe ran out into the rear landing and peered through the rain and fog, trying desperately to spot the train. Before long, way off in the distance, he saw a pinpoint of light, and he knew it had to be the freight train behind him. As the light got bigger. He could almost hear the wheels from the freight chugging toward him louder and louder! Joe grabbed his lantern and started waving it frantically from side to side, hollering, "Hey, stop! Hey!" He knew the freight engineer couldn't hear him, but he screamed anyway, waving his lantern wilder and wilder. The freight line grew bigger and bigger, and Joe heard the whooshing sound of the air brakes and then the sound of the freight locomotives going into reverse, its wheels spinning on the track, he saw the sparks flying  from the outside of the track like some surreal fireworks display. That was the last thing Joe Baldwin ever saw. For the freight smashed into his caboose with a deafening crash, splintering it into a 1,000,000 pieces. There was silence on the tracks, save for the steam hissing from freight train. The only light was from Joe Baldwin's lantern, which had been thrown deep into the dark swamp and continued to burn through the night. The next morning, the people came to search the wreckage and finally found Joe's mangled body near the caboose. To their horror, they found he had been decapitated in the crash. They searched throughout the woods but could never find his head, only his lantern still warm to the touch. They carried Joe home and buried him without his head. A few weeks later, the stationmaster and Maco stepped out onto the platform on another dark and foggy night. As he looked down the tracks, he thought he saw a little pinpoint of light coming toward him. He checked his watch. There wasn't supposed to be any train arriving. Then light kept moving down the tracks as if it were someone carrying a lantern. Then it started to switch back and forth. But as it got closer to the station and started to swing wilder and wilder and then it suddenly turned, went back down the tracks until it disappeared into the darkness. The stationmaster didn't know what to make of it at first, and eventually dismissed it from his mind. But then the lights started coming back more, mainly on nights when there was stormy weather. Again, it would start as a tiny point growing larger as it approached, swinging back and forth like a lantern wilder and wilder. Then, as any of the station, it would turn around and go back into the woods. The station master wasn't the only one who saw the light. Engineers approaching Maco would see it along the tracks and would stop their trains, thinking it was a signal. They finally had to make a special rule at Maco, where any signals to any train had to be done with two lights instead of one, and any single light signals were to be ignored. Folks began coming into Maco from all over to see what became known as the Maco Light. Scientists even tried studying it to come up with a plausible theory but could never figure it out. Some folks said it was a ball of lightning or swamp gas. In later years, some believed it was automobile headlights reflecting off the tracks. But all the locals knew what it was. They knew it was Joe Baldwin coming back to look for his head! (Laughs) In 1977, the railroad shut down the line and tore up the tracks. When the tracks left, so did the light. And it hasn't reappeared since. Whether Joe Baldwin found his head, or found some other measure of peace, that was the last anyone ever saw of the Maco Light. (Laughs)
Hey, I want to thank all the guests that we've had on over the last 12 months. We're certainly looking forward to all the guests were going to have over the next 12 months. And, of course, you, the listeners and our sponsors, we truly thank each and every one of you for listening to this podcast. Please make sure that you come on to Facebook, join our podcast page so that you can continue discussions, get access to contests that we hold every once in a while and also get advanced listens on each episode. Next week, we're back to business as usual. I'm finally getting to do my Cabarrus in the 20's episode. I know I've teased it twice, and it hasn't happened. But it finally happened. I got to sit down with Robby Carney, the director of the Cabarrus County Economic Development Corporation, and he was very gracious enough to talk to me about current projects going on in the county and what he anticipates the county to look like over the next decade. It's gonna be a great conversation. I encourage you to tune in next week and give a listen to that. Until next time. I want to thank our sponsors. Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. I've been your host Jason Huddle. Until next week, I'm gonna go out and celebrate!

Our First Anniversary Celebration!

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