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Friday Five: A can-a-thon, an NCDOT project, litter and a million steaks grilled

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Smiling faces, like Kristel and William Swayze shown here from last year’s can-a-thon, will be greeting you outside Harris-Teeter stores this weekend.

We’re going to jump around with the Friday Five today including a long-running can-a-thon, a long-awaited road project and 24 years of grilling steaks.

No. 1

Bring out ye food (or other donations)! The 42nd Annual Concord Rotary Can-A-Thon this weekend at all the local Harris Teeters and would appreciate the community’s support. Concord Rotary Club has been collecting food for the local Salvation Army winter food pantry the second weekend of December for 42 years now.

The last few years, Kannapolis Rotary Club, Southwest Cabarrus Rotary Club and the Afton Sunset Rotary Club have joined the effort.

Thanks to Rotarian Zac Moretz for reminding us about the event:

“This weekend you will find friendly local Rotarians as well as student volunteers out front of the Harris Teeters at Davidson Corner (across from Mr. C's restaurant), Coddle Creek (at the intersection of Poplar Tent Rd. and George Liles Blvd.), Cannon Crossing (at the intersection of Poplar Tent and Harris Rd.), Renaissance Square (on Highway 73 where Poplar Tent becomes Shiloh Church Rd.), and at Caldwell Crossing in Harrisburg. We will also be accepting monetary donations. All donations are delivered directly to the Salvation Army here in downtown Concord.”

The need is growing.

“The Salvation Army also just celebrated the naming of its new homeless shelter, the Tucker Family Center of Hope, so there are big things going on at our local Salvation Army, but that also means bigger expenses and more mouths to feed,” Moretz said. “At this time of year when want is most keenly felt by those in need, we hope your readers will drop some food or some dollars into our buggies this weekend to help the hungry and homeless.”

To volunteer (volunteers still needed) or to make a donation email

No. 2

Rogers Lake rail crossing contract approved. The N.C. Department of Transportation awarded a $16.3 million contract to make safety improvements where Rogers Lake Road crosses the North Carolina and Norfolk Southern Railroads in Kannapolis, according to an NCDOT press release.

Albemarle contractor NJR Group, Inc. has been awarded the project to build a bridge separating Rogers Lake Road from the railroad tracks and to close the at-grade crossing.

Replacing the street-level crossing will eliminate train-vehicle conflicts and reduce train horn noise while supporting current and future passenger rail service, in addition to the frequent freight train traffic at the crossing. The grade separation will also remove frequent delays drivers experience while waiting on passing trains.

Contract crews can start work in mid-May 2023 and must have all roadwork complete by spring 2026. Vegetation establishment can continue through the end of 2026.

This project has been a long time coming.

No. 3

A train ride to the Mayo Bowl. N.C. State University fans wanting to root for the Wolfpack in person at their football bowl game are encouraged to get there by riding NC By Train to Charlotte.

N.C. State will play the University of Maryland Terrapins in Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Kickoff is at noon Dec. 30.

Whether located in Raleigh or at the stops in between, fans can ride NC By Train, the state managed passenger rail service for North Carolina. On game day, the Piedmont train 73 will leave Raleigh Union Station at 6:30 a.m. and arrive in Charlotte at 9:40 a.m. Piedmont train 78 will leave Charlotte at 7 p.m. the same day, allowing fans to watch the game, explore Uptown and even eat before heading back to the train station for a stress-free ride home.

Anticipating higher ridership that day, riders are encouraged to buy tickets on as early as possible. When booking, don’t forget to take advantage of the Share Fare discount, which allows groups to save more money when they buy more tickets.

A million steaks

Irineo “Carlos” Arellano, was surprised with a grand celebration for grilling one million steaks at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Concord.

No. 4

A million steaks grilled. What does it take to grill one million steaks? Concord resident and LongHorn Steakhouse Grill Master Irineo “Carlos” Arellano has the recipe. He is among the elite class of only 17 Grill Masters ever to be celebrated as one of LongHorn Steakhouse’s Grill Master Legends, a special distinction bestowed only upon those who have achieved this sizzling accomplishment.

“As part of LongHorn’s commitment to quality, every restaurant has a team of expert Grill Masters specially trained in the art of grilling,” according to a press release from LongHorn. “They are in-house specialists on selecting the right cut of fresh, never frozen steak, boldly seasoning with one of the restaurant’s proprietary spice blends and grilling to each guest’s taste. Only the best become LongHorn’s Grill Masters.”

A million steak

Irineo “Carlos” Arellano is now among the elite class of only 17 Grill Masters ever to be celebrated as one of LongHorn Steakhouse’s “Grill Master Legends,” a special distinction bestowed only upon those who have achieved this sizzling accomplishment.

After serving as a Grill Master for 24 years, Carlos has grilled one million steaks, marking him as a true master of his craft. To celebrate this achievement, he was surprised by his restaurant team, his family and restaurant-wide leaders with a special event recognizing him as a Grill Master Legend. He received a special gold chef coat, a $5,000 award and a visit from LongHorn Steakhouse president Todd Burrowes.

No. 5

Litter pick-up in Kannapolis. Hands off to The Beta Club of A.L. Brown High School. The students spent last Saturday morning, Dec. 3, picking up litter in Kannapolis despite the rainy, cold weather.

E.L.K. clean-up

The Beta Club volunteers worked hard to pick up litter.

“We had a great turn out for our last Elk event of the year. We are super thankful for the A.L. Brown Beta club,” said Rita Bliven, organizer of E.L.K. (Eliminating Litter in Kannapolis). “We will be back at our adopted street, West 8th St, in March 2023.”

E.L.K. and the groups working with them have picked up a lot of litter this year. Thanks for the efforts. If you want to work with E.L.K. email or visit


The A.L. Brown Beta Club picked up a lot of litter Saturday, Dec. 3, during an event coordinated by E.L.K.

If you have a Friday Five, a story suggestion or something I can rant about email or call or text 704-786-0001.

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Mark Plemmons

Mark Plemmons has been editor of the Independent Tribune since October 2015 and a journalist since 1980.

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