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Ask Matt ... about a local pronunciation

The Lightning responds to your questions.

Q. Is it true that custom license plate holders are now illegal in this state and there is a $100 fine if you have one?

Yes, in some cases. If a license plate frame saying, for example, "Clemson Tigers," covers the words "North Carolina," that's a violation. In 2010, the legislature passed a law that prohibits covering the wording or the registration stickers on license plates. I suspect that with all the cameras around our law enforcement folks need optimum license plate clarity. I checked three of our local car dealers and found that each offered a "slimmed down" frame that complies with the law. The first year only warning tickets were issued statewide. I asked Sgt. Don Christensen of our Highway Patrol about recent local enforcement. He said, "We enforce all the laws the General Assembly passes." Then he quickly pointed out the Highway Patrol's mission was to keep the highways safe and prevent accidents. Roger that.

Q. Who are the Carolina Gladiators? Sportscasters always think you know where all the high schools are.

The Gladiators are a new faith-centered independent "high school age" football team from Arden. But since you asked, here is a list of some of the public high schools in our area that don't carry a place name reference. I've grouped them by school size with 4A being the largest (locations are in parentheses). 4A schools: T.C. Roberson (south Asheville) and A.C. Reynolds (east Asheville). 3A schools: Tuscola (Waynesville), Enka (west Buncombe), Erwin (north Asheville), and R-S Central (Rutherfordton). 2A schools: Owen (Black Mountain), Pisgah (Canton), Mountain Heritage (Burnsville), Smoky Mountain (Sylva), and Chase (Forest City). Now doesn't it make you proud that three of our county high schools are named after compass points?

Q. How do you pronounce "Mezzaluna" like the restaurant?"

There is a web site for everything and pronunciation is no exception. I picked and the answer rendered was "metza-loona" – you pronounce the double "z" like a "t" as in "pizza." I asked some of the staff at our own Mezzaluna Restaurant how they say it. Most prefer the southern pronunciation – "mezza-loona." You may remember the famous Brentwood (L.A.) restaurant by the same name where O.J.'s wife once dined. It's closed now. Mezzaluna means half-moon in Italian but I'll bet half of you already knew that.

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Send us your questions about a local issue, event, sighting or anything that is puzzling you. If your question is reasonable, we'll try to get an answer. Email Matt at: