1.5 million Carolinians expected to travel for Memorial Day

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AAA Carolinas) — An estimated 1,029,500 North Carolina and 475,500 South Carolina motorists are expected to celebrate this Memorial Day weekend with a road trip – the highest numbers for both states in 10 years. A strong economy and low gas prices are driving the increase in holiday travel, especially by automobile, according to AAA Carolinas.

150522-Highway-Signs-GreensboroThe average price for a gallon of gas in North Carolina is $2.55, while South Carolina’s average is $2.40 – the lowest prices on Memorial Day since 2009. While gas prices have increased by 20 cents in a month, motorists in North Carolina are still paying $1.07 less than they were a year ago, while South Carolinians are saving $1.06.

Asheville has North Carolina’s highest average gas price at $2.61 and the cheapest in the state is in Boone at $2.46. Myrtle Beach has South Carolina’s highest average price at $2.44 and the cheapest can be found in Spartanburg at $2.32.

Travelers heading south will find prices in Georgia and Florida in the $2.62 range; those heading north will find prices around $2.48 in Virginia, and those travelling west will find Tennessee prices around $2.47.

“Following a harsh winter, many Carolinians are kicking off the summer driving season with a vacation getaway,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “With more Memorial Day travelers on the road, it’s even more important to eliminate distractions behind the wheel. Stay off your phone and give yourself extra time to reach your destination.”

Nearly 1,146,000 North Carolinians, and about 538,000 South Carolinians are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home, with the top driving destinations Charleston, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Pigeon Forge.

The Memorial Day holiday shows a 2.5% increase over last year in air travel. About 82,800 North Carolinians will fly to their destinations while 33,100 South Carolina vacationers will travel by air. The top three air destinations this month have been Orlando, Baltimore and Seattle, followed by Anchorage and Vancouver.

Travel by other modes of transportation is expected to decrease by 3.6% this weekend, with 34,600 North Carolina vacationers and 31,600 South Carolinians travelling on cruises, trains and buses.

The average nightly stay in a AAA Two Diamond hotel is 16% higher this year at $144 per night, while AAA Three Diamond hotels will cost 7% more, averaging $182.

AAA Carolinas expects to help approximately 13,000 motorists on the roadside this holiday weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.

The most congested times for travel are expected to be Friday afternoon and evening – with traffic increasing earlier in the day than usual – as well as Monday evening, as travelers head back home.

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers, with seven of the 10 most deadly days occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

One of the biggest contributing factors in traffic deaths involving teen drivers is the number of other teen passengers in the car. Fatal crash rates for 16 to 19-year olds increase five times when two or more teen passengers are present. AAA recommends parents discuss these dangers and other distraction issues including cell phone use while driving, with their teens.

For the latest on construction delays, go to the North Carolina Department of Transportation website, http://www.NCDOT.gov. Click on Travel & Maps and then on the Traveler Information Management System for up-to-date traffic information related to closed travel lanes, accidents or expected congestion due to sporting events, such as Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Coca-Cola 600 race this weekend.

South Carolina will suspend construction projects along interstates and high volume multilane primary routes throughout the holiday weekend.

The five-day Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 21 through Monday, May 25. Survey data is taken from AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, AAA/HIS Global Insight holiday travel forecast and AAA Carolinas data.

To estimate fuel costs, travelers can go to http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com to input starting city, destination, and the make and model of their car.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find updated gas prices, view nearby member discounts and access AAA Roadside Assistance.

AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.9 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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Panelists discuss local education at forum

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Dale Ellis says the improvement of local education depends on active dialog about the areas that are lacking.

150516-OCMG-Education-Forum

Dr. Dale Ellis, Nora Beasley Jones, Anthony Copeland and Barbara Wilson (l-r) participate in a local education forum May 16 in Mount Gilead. (Johnny Almond photo)

“From my standpoint, we’re always talking about continuous improvement,” said Ellis. “You can sit there and talk about what you do well all day long ’til the cows come home, but you’ve really got to focus on the things you need to improve on before you get any better.”

Issues including parent involvement, children’s mental health and racism were discussed when Dr. Ellis joined Mount Gilead Elementary PTO member Nora Beasley Jones, Montgomery County Commissioner Anthony Copeland and mental health professional Barbara Wilson for the forum, hosted by One Community Mount Gilead. The panel fielded a number of questions from the audience and moderator Earl Leake.

WMTG will rebroadcast the forum in its entirety Tue., May 19, at 8 p.m.

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Citizens petition for reinstatement of Mount Gilead police chief

Area citizens are calling for the reinstatement of former Mount Gilead Police Chief Ralph Vieux.

150420-WMTG-Logo-Local-News-WebAt the May 12 regular monthly meeting of town commissioners, Anthony David Allsbrook and Leon Turner presented a petition calling for a reversal of the town’s April 16 decision to dismiss Vieux. The dismissal came shortly after Vieux’s wife made allegations of abuse. Those charges were dismissed April 23 in Randolph County District Court.

Allsbrook said he and the other petitioners believe the decision to terminate Vieux’s employment was made too soon.

“We feel like the mayor and commissioners rushed their judgment against the chief,” said Allsbrook. “The law allows a person to be innocent until proven guilty (and) the due process of law was denied to the chief.”

Speaking a short time later, Leon Turner asked the mayor, commissioners and town manager for some explanation as to why Vieux was dismissed, but the board declined to comment on advice of counsel. Turner said he decided to take action because no official reason had been given for the action.

“I’m speaking up because this man’s name was dragged through the mud with no explanation of why,” Turner stated.

Turner also expressed his belief that allegations should have been more carefully considered before action was taken.

“This man has almost a 20-year record unblemished,” said Turner, “but, come to Mount Gilead and work four or five months, (he gets) his name just drug through the mud because of accusations.”

“Anybody can be accused of anything, but you’ve got to have proof that (he has) done something, and nothing has been proved that he’s done anything.”

The petitioners say they have more than 300 signatures supporting their request. Turner acknowledged that some of those people live outside the town limit, but he noted that many of those people do business in Mount Gilead and live in the area near town that also receives some services from the police department.

Commissioners had no immediate comment.

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Small business seminars to focus on use of eBay

140425_MCC_LogoThe Small Business Center at Montgomery Community College (MCC) continues a series of free seminars with two sessions this week about online retailing. Specifically, this week’s workshops will focus on the use of eBay as a platform for building business.

The following course information was provided by MCC:

How to Start an eBay Store
This seminar is designed for business owners and entrepreneurs who are ready to become eBay Store Owners. During this fast-paced session, learn how to start, brand and optimize your eBay Store Website. Learn how to market your eBay Store more effectively with email newsletters, traffic reports and the markdown manager sales tool. Learn how to use the “Quick Store Tune-Up” feature and “Manage My Store” page to customize your eBay Store. Learn valuable tips for search engine optimization that will surely bring more internet shoppers to your eBay Store. Nick Hawks is an education specialist trained by eBay with a diverse background in business administration and over 18 years of experience selling on eBay.
Instructor: Nick Hawks
Date: May 12
Time: Tuesday, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Fee: Free, Building 100, Room 105 – Blair Auditorium

How to Sell on eBay with Your Mobile Device
This seminar is designed for business owners and entrepreneurs who are already selling on eBay who want to learn how to sell on eBay with their mobile devices.  The eBay apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and BlackBerry let you create a listing with a simple form.  During this seminar, you will learn how to:  Research sales trends and completed listings for similar items to set a competitive price for your item; Take pictures with your device and add them to your listing; Scan your item’s barcode to add product details that are in eBay’s catalog automatically; Finish a listing you started before, either on your mobile device or on your home computer – the eBay app is synchronized to the eBay website, making it easy to move between them when creating a listing; predefine and save your listing preferences like handling time and return policy; Use the Sell One Like This feature to auto-fill some of your item details; Accept PayPal as a payment method; Keep track of your active listings; Relist items; and Provide tracking information to buyers and respond to questions right away.  Nick Hawks is an education specialist trained by eBay with a diverse background in business administration and over 18 years of experience selling on eBay.
Instructor: Nick Hawks
Date: May 14
Time: Thursday, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Fee: Free, Building 100, Room 105 – Blair Auditorium

Small Business Center director Richard Hinson said drop-ins are always welcome at the seminars, but advance registration is strongly recommended so handouts and seating arrangements can be prepared. Seminars with no advance registrations may be canceled.

To register for seminars or to make an appointment for confidential business counseling, contact Hinson at 910-576-6222, ext. 216, or hinsonr@montgomery.edu. Online seminar registration is available by clicking here. Schedule and room assignment updates are available by clicking here.

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