(AP) — The North Carolina House has passed a bill paving the way for tolls, but only if the state maintains free lanes.
The House approved a bill Tuesday that allows the state to add tolls only if it keeps the same number of non-toll lanes.
If highways were expanded, the state Department of Transportation could toll lanes to pay for the construction. The department could also offer limited access and higher speed limits to encourage motorists to take the toll lanes.
The measure targets potential tolling on Interstate 95 but would apply to all current interstates.
An amendment to restore a provision giving the legislature final say on tolls failed. Amendment sponsor Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern argued the elected officials should have that authority, not the transportation department.
(AP) — Senate Republicans say ever-rising costs for Medicaid are siphoning away money in North Carolina government that could be used to help public education and law enforcement and raise employee pay.
Senate budget-writers discussed Monday their proposed two-year state budget being heard later in the day by subcommittees and voted through the chamber this week.
They say the proposal must set aside $1.2 billion in additional funds through mid-2015 for Medicaid expenses. Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Forsyth County says the budget's attempts to get costs under control within the health insurance plan prevented senators from offering pay raises for state employees next year.
Gov. Pat McCrory says the Senate budget aligns well with his proposal on Medicaid but says further dialogue is needed on several Senate provisions that are different.
NC woman accused of trying to poison 5 with cheese
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
(AP) — A North Carolina woman is charged with trying to poison five family members after one of them refused to share some cheese with her.
A statement from the Nash County Sheriff's Office said 24-year-old Tiara Drake wanted some of a relative's cheese on Friday, but the woman refused to share.
The sheriff's office said Drake awakened before the rest of the family the next morning and used detergent, window cleaner and a household cleanser to poison the cheese. The rest of the family made breakfast with the cheese and began eating it before one of them determined it was tainted.
Drake is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder and jailed under $50,000 bond. She had a court appearance Monday but didn't have an attorney at the hearing.
(AP) — A bill broadening so-called conscience protections and the number of employers who can refuse to provide contraception services in health insurance coverage has been approved by a North Carolina House committee.
The bill approved Wednesday allows any medical professional to refuse to participate in an abortion and allows any business to refuse to provide contraception coverage on religious or moral grounds.
The bill expands so-called conscience protections beyond doctors and nurses to include people such as pharmacists and technicians.
The contraception provision expands existing law that exempts religious organizations to any private or nonprofit company.
The bill also outlaws health care plans that include abortion services from future online marketplaces of private plans offered under the federal Affordable Care Act.
(AP) — Health advocates say a North Carolina Senate bill would repeal hundreds of local and community college rules restricting smoking outdoors.
The Senate Environment Committee passed a bill Tuesday that prohibits local governments and community colleges from enacting smoking bans that are stricter than state law. Bill sponsor Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson said he appreciates public health progress made in the state since it passed restrictions in 2010, but he thinks a line should be set at outdoor settings.
Lawmakers from both parties expressed concerns about how the bill would overturn smoke-free campus laws and specially designated smoking areas. The North Carolina Health Alliance counts 249 local ordinances under threat by the law and most of the state's community colleges.
The bill now goes heads to another committee for review.
(AP) — A long-awaited study by North Carolina health officials of PCB contamination in the Yadkin River is ready, but environmentalists say officials have kept the findings quiet for too long.
The state Department of Health and Human Services on Monday was scheduled to release its study of the industrial pollutant near a closed Alcoa Inc. aluminum smelter. State officials also scheduled a community meeting near the Stanly County site to discuss the study.
Environmentalists represented by Duke University law professor Ryke Longest collected data from the study under a public records request. Longest says the health agency's data shows the PCB contamination is broader than previously thought and officials have been slow to warn the public against eating fish.
Polychlorinated biphenyls cause cancer and other diseases in animals.
(AP) — The July 4 fireworks show at Camp Lejeune is the latest victim of the federal budget cuts.
The Marine Corps said Tuesday that the fireworks celebration has been canceled because of the cuts known as sequestration.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry said supporting the Marines, those who have been wounded and families are the top priorities. Gorry says canceling the event will allow the base to use resources for other financial challenges.
The base is working on other free events that could include golf, bowling, skeet shooting, archery or free movies at the base theater.
(AP) — Senate Republicans are putting their best foot forward on an overhaul of North Carolina's tax code that will reduce tax rates but also will mean more services will be subject to the sales tax.
Senate leader Phil Berger and the two Senate Finance Committee chairmen scheduled a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss their proposed "North Carolina Tax Fairness Act." No bill has yet been filed, but Berger released a video Monday night describing broad themes and highlights of the plan.
Berger calls the plan "the largest tax cut in state history" of more than $1 billion that will occur through lower individual and corporate income tax rates and a lower sales tax. The Eden attorney acknowledges the sales tax will be expanded but says it will be fairer.
AP- Some North Carolina lawmakers want to give concealed weapon permit holders more places to carry or store their pistols. The House has scheduled debate today on a Republican-backed measure that's endorsed by gun-rights groups but opposed strongly by university leaders.
AP source: Obama naming NC's Watt for housing post
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
(AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama intends to nominate Democratic Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the government regulator that oversees lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If confirmed by the Senate, Watt would replace Edward DeMarco, an appointee of President George W. Bush who has been a target of housing advocates, liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers.
The president was expected to announce the nomination Wednesday.
Watt's nomination comes at a crucial time for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government sponsored mortgage-finance enterprises that the government rescued at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 as they teetered neared collapse from losses on soured mortgage loans.
The White House official spoke only on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.
(AP) — A protest of Republican policies at the North Carolina General Assembly has ended with the arrests of 17 people.
General Assembly police arrested members of the state chapter of the NAACP and other activists Monday outside the Senate chambers. The demonstrators called attention through prayer and song to what they called a regressive agenda.
Police Chief Jeff Weaver said the protestors will be charged.
The protest was directed at Republican action on health care, unemployment benefits, education and voting rights. The House passed a bill last week requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, which the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People views as a poll tax.
Chapter president the Rev. William Barber said more protests at the General Assembly are likely
(AP) — The foundation named for the University of North Carolina student who performed as the school's mascot is hosting a fundraiser to help people awaiting transplants.
The Jason Ray Foundation is scheduled to host a brunch and auction Sunday at The Carolina Club in Alumni Hall. The event is also designed to help people who have received an organ transplant at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
Ray was in New Jersey with the Tar Heel men's basketball team during the NCAA tournament in 2007 when he was hit from behind while walking on a highway shoulder near his hotel in Fort Lee, N.J. He was returning from a convenience store when he was struck.
He died three days later from his injuries, and his organs were donated.
(AP) — George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has died. He was 81.
Publicist Kirt Webster says Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Known for his clenched, precise baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s, and was idolized not just by fellow country singers, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others.
In a career that lasted more than 50 years, "Possum" recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams.
. (AP) — Greensboro police are investigating the shooting death of a man at an apartment complex.
The News & Record of Greensboro reported that officers were called to the complex shortly before midnight Wednesday.
They found 28-year-old Michael Thomas McLaurin of Greensboro dead in the parking lot. McLaurin had been shot several times.
Police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen says McLaurin had been arguing in the parking lot shortly before the shooting. Danielsen says it's unclear how many people were involved and what prompted the dispute.
No arrests have been made.
McLaurin's death is the 10th homicide in Greensboro this year.
(AP) — North Carolina State University has come up with a new hospital gown that does not leave patients grasping for the back of their garment as they walk the halls.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported) one of the school's professors talked about the new, front-closing, gown during N.C. State's Fashion Week.
Designer Traci Lamar is not showing the gown now, to prevent patent infringements.
The new design will be tested this summer at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh. Kenneth Murray with the hospital says caregivers will get the first review of the garment. Murray says if the staff doesn't like the design, patients will never use it.
But if staff approves and the patients like the new design, he says it will be a big deal.
(AP) — A trio of former supporters of North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue are due in court on charges that they obstructed justice during an investigation of financial activities related to her campaign.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby says due in court Wednesday are long-time Perdue family friend Trawick "Buzzy" Stubbs Jr. of New Bern, fast-food restaurant owner Charles Michael Fulenwider and Robert Caldwell, both of Morganton.
Caldwell and Stubbs are charged with felony obstruction of justice. Fulenwider faces a misdemeanor count.
Stubbs and Caldwell are charged with hiding the source of money used to pay for private planes made available for Perdue during her successful 2008 campaign.
Grand jurors said Fulenwider was involved with funneling $32,000 to secretly pay part of a Perdue fundraiser's salary during the Democrat's campaign.
(AP) — North Carolina legislators are considering a law aimed at getting schools prepared to treat children who suffer severe allergic reactions.
A state House committee on Tuesday is scheduled to hear a measure that would require epinephrine auto-injectors in schools and at school-sponsored events. They deliver a dose of adrenaline that counters the effects of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
The law also requires school nurses or other school employees to be trained before injecting students with epinephrine.
The state's pediatric physicians say with child allergies on the rise, the legislation could save a life since one in four allergic reactions occurring at school happen to students who were not previously diagnosed.
A similar law was adopted in Virginia last year after a 7-year-old died from an allergic reaction to peanuts.
(AP) — The former CEO of Pace Airlines has agreed to a deal to reimburse 150 employees nearly $445,000 in unpaid medical claims stemming from his failure to pay health-insurance premiums.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that William Rodgers accepted the deal in Forsyth County Superior Court on Thursday.
The 62-year-old Rodgers agreed to enter a deferred prosecution program to avoid jail time for willful failure to pay group health-insurance premiums to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and willful failure to deliver notice to employees.
He has 21 days to have his insurance policy make the payment.
Rodgers will be on unsupervised probation for a year and has to complete 200 hours of community service within 300 days. If he complies, the N.C. Attorney General's Office will voluntarily dismiss all charges.
Voter ID proposal clears House Elections Committee
Thursday, April 18, 2013
(AP) — A North Carolina House Committee has endorsed a bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.
The House Elections Committee on Wednesday recommended the bill to the full chamber in a 23-11 vote divided along party lines. The vote followed more than two hours of mostly unsuccessful amendments from Democrats who wanted to broaden the forms of acceptable ID and ease restrictions.
Voter ID has emerged as a contentious issue nationally and on the state level, pitting Republicans who say it ensures election integrity against Democrats who say evidence of fraud is almost non-existent.
The first of three committee votes capped a month-long series of hearings to gather input. The bill heads to the Finance Committee and is expected to reach the House floor next Wednesday or Thursday.
(AP) — North Carolina health organizations are gearing up for a statewide campaign to promote better eating and exercise habits.
"A Healthier NC" campaign rolls out Tuesday with a news conference at the state Department of Health and Human Services that will feature the heads of community organizations and state agencies.
The goal is to sign up at least 1 million residents on the campaign's website and get them to explore health information, track physical activity and weight loss. The website, ahealthiernc.com, also includes ways to share progress and provides details on upcoming exercise and health-related events across the state.
Approximately 28 percent of the state's adult population is obese, according to the campaign, which is sponsored by a number of health organizations across the state.
(AP) — A North Carolina teenager is accused of setting the fire that destroyed a Stokesdale church in December.
The News & Record of Greensboro reported Friday that Harley Kendall Fulp of Stokesdale has been charged with felonious burning of a church or other religious building. Authorities say the 18-year-old Fulp intentionally set the Dec. 22 fire at Gideon Grove United Methodist Church.
The fire reduced the red brick church to a blackened, roofless shell. Gideon Grove was one of five Methodist churches in the area believed to have been set on fire intentionally since December.
Rockingham County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Kevin Suthard said authorities are investigating whether Fulp had a role in the other fires. He is being held in the Rockingham County jail under a $50,000 bond.
(AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory seems to have found his footing within state government after more than three months in office.
The question is whether voters and Republican colleagues at the General Assembly will continue to like where he stands.
McCrory reaches his 100th day as governor Monday. He spent the first several weeks hiring staff, putting out administrative fires and making a couple big decisions. Now he's entered a new phase. In the past month, he's proposed a two-year state budget and privatizing parts of Medicaid and the Commerce Department.
The former Charlotte mayor tells The Associated Press in an interview that his administration is working with a sense of urgency to fix immediate problems and implement long-term changes.
(AP) — The Senate's top leader says he's addressed many of the public's concerns about his public schools reform package but isn't budging on ultimately ending teacher tenure.
The Senate Education Committee recommended legislation Wednesday authored by Senate leader Phil Berger that would replace career job protections that teachers can now receive after four years in the same district with one- to four-year contracts.
Berger says tenure won't be phased out completely until 2018 but says it must be eliminated because it keeps too many poorly performing teachers in the classroom.
The bill now goes to the Senate's budget-writing committee.
Bipartisan legislation also filed Wednesday in the House wouldn't do away with tenure, but teachers could lose it if they receive poor evaluations two years in a row and don't improve.
(AP) — A legislative proposal to allow speed limits of 75 miles per hour on some North Carolina roads is barreling through the state Senate.
The Senate Transportation Committee quickly passed legislation Wednesday giving the state Department of Transportation authority to set speed limits that high for interstates and other controlled access highways. The current limit is 70 mph.
Bill sponsor Sen. Neal Hunt of Raleigh says he wants to give drivers the opportunity to travel more quickly in light traffic areas without getting a ticket. He envisions Interstate 40 between Raleigh and Wilmington as a candidate.
The bill was just filed last week and now heads to the full Senate.
AAA Carolinas motor club spokesman Tom Crosby raised several concerns, saying speed is a contributing factor in one-third of traffic fatalities.
(AP) — North Carolina Senate Republicans are pushing a new bill requiring drug screening for welfare applicants and current recipients who reapply for assistance.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the proposal Tuesday that would require applicants to undergo drug screening at their own cost. They would be paid back if they tested negative for controlled substances.
Current law requires welfare recipients with diagnosed substance abuse problems to participate in a treatment program and submit to drug testing to continue qualifying for benefits.
Democrats and advocacy groups opposed the changes, arguing they unfairly target poor people when they need help the most. They say similar policies in other states haven't worked.
Another Republican-sponsored bill requiring criminal background checks for welfare recipients and applicants is scheduled for a full House vote Tuesday.
(AP) — Police in North Carolina are searching for a man who stole an excavator from a construction site and used it to make off with a 2,000-pound automated teller machine.
According to Winston-Salem police, someone stole the excavator Monday morning and drove it about 200 yards to the ATM. They said the suspect used the claw from the excavator to knock over the ATM kiosk at a credit union, then picked up the machine and lifted it into a pickup truck. It's believed a second car was involved in the theft.
Police said video surveillance revealed that a black Crown Victoria with tinted windows was involved, and that the suspect may be shorter in stature because of the way he had to reach for the steering wheel.
Who needs a GPS? NCDOT releases transportation map
Monday, April 8, 2013
(AP) — North Carolina's Department of Transportation is filling the need of people who prefer unfolding a map to digital technology.
The updated state transportation map is now available. It's free of charge.
Maps are available at welcome centers, rest areas and state DOT offices across the state. Maps also can be ordered online at visitnc.com/statemap or by calling 1-800 VISIT NC.
The transportation department quit putting out an annual map in 2009 and now publishes every two years to cut printing costs. Starting with the last edition, the state map began featuring a quick response code that can be scanned by mobile devices to link directly to NCDOT Mobile.
Crews find bodies of 2 NC children trapped in dirt
Monday, April 8, 2013
(AP) — Authorities have recovered the bodies of two children who were trapped when dirt fell on them while playing in a hole at a home construction site near Charlotte.
Lincoln County Emergency Management officials say the bodies of a 6-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy were pulled Monday from a dirt pit in Denver.
Crews had been searching for the children since Sunday afternoon, when one of their fathers called 911 to report the collapse. Officials were on the scene within minutes but couldn't get to the children, who were trapped about 20 feet below a new home that was under construction.
Neighbors have said a man building the home had been digging with a backhoe earlier in the day.
Authorities said late Sunday they didn't expect to find the children alive.
(AP) — The state Senate agrees that the Racial Justice Act should be repealed completely in North Carolina as one way to restart executions after a more than six-year hiatus.
Senators voted along party lines Wednesday in favor of several changes to capital punishment laws. Some reflect a state court ruling that found doctors are required by state law to oversee executions. The bill also ends the 2009 law allowing death-row inmates to argue for a life sentence on the grounds of racial prejudice.
Bill sponsor Sen. Thom Goolsby of Wilmington says lawmakers have a moral obligation to ensure executions are carried out in accordance with state law. But Democratic opponents argue the Racial Justice Act has determined black residents have been unfairly left off capital murder juries.
(AP) — Hundreds more jobs may be landing in the Greensboro area.
Greensboro's city council has planned a public hearing for Tuesday night on whether to give TIMCO Aviation Services $400,000 in taxpayer help with expansion. Guilford County commissioners are expected to consider the same amount as the aircraft maintenance company adds 400 jobs.
The company that repairs airliners and military planes has outgrown its four hangars at Piedmont Triad International Airport and is turning away work. TIMCO employs about 1,800 people there and a Davidson County factory.
The company hasn't said where else it may be considering expansion, but also has operations in Macon, Ga., and the Cincinnati area.
Virginia State Police have identified victims of I-77 crash
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
(AP) — Virginia State Police have identified the three victims of a chain-reaction crash involving nearly 100 vehicles along a mountainous, foggy stretch of Interstate 77.
The victims were identified Monday as 33-year-old William M. Sosebee of Allen, Ky., 71-year-old Kathern Worley of Iron Station, N.C., and 24-year-old Andrew Katbi of Delphos, Ohio.
State police said Sosebee and Worley were passengers in different vehicles that struck the same tractor-trailer, while Katbi was the driver of another vehicle that reared-ended a tractor-trailer. All died at the scene.
State police investigators said 95 vehicles were involved in 17 separate crashes within a mile span near the base of Fancy Gap Mountain near the North Carolina state line on Sunday afternoon. Twenty-five were injured.
(AP) — The state Highway Patrol says troopers have shot and killed a Winston-Salem woman who was the subject of a statewide missing persons alert.
A Highway Patrol spokesman says 60-year-old Melissa Anne Jenkins was shot and killed Sunday morning in Robersonville after a pursuit. First Sgt. Jeff Gordon says police tried to stop a white Jeep Grand Cherokee on U.S. 64 West but the driver fled, leading authorities on a chase into Edgecombe County.
Authorities were able to stop the vehicle when the driver pulled over because of a flat tire.
Gordon says Jenkins was armed with multiple weapons. He says officers returned fire after she pointed a weapon at them.
Three troopers were placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.
(AP) — North Carolina House members say a public school safety bill should give parents and teachers peace of mind that legislators are doing whatever is necessary to protect students and school personnel following the Connecticut school shootings.
Legislators of both parties endorsed a measure Thursday that would provide $15 million to local governments to hire more school resource officers, psychologists and guidance counselors. There's also $2 million in grants to help put panic alarms in every classroom in the state by July 2015.
The bill also would require schools to hold crisis exercises annually. School districts would conduct the exercises every two years.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced last week the revival and retooling of a school safety center in the Department of Public Safety.
(AP) — Electronic sweepstakes games are supposed to be illegal in North Carolina. But hundreds of Internet cafes across the state continue to offer the fast-moving games mimicking Vegas-style slots.
Three months after the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld lawmakers' most recent ban, there has been no visible statewide effort by law enforcement authorities to put the multimillion dollar industry out of business.
The North Carolina Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement is granted the explicit responsibility under state law to root out illegal gambling. Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan said Thursday the agency is conferring with local law enforcement and prosecutors on how to best enforce the sweepstakes ban.
Meanwhile, local prosecutors and county sheriffs in more than a dozen jurisdictions have moved ahead. They are raiding cafes, seizing computers and making arrests.
US Sen. Hagan of NC backs same-sex marriage rights
Thursday, March 28, 2013
(AP) — Sen. Kay Hagan says she backs marriage rights for same-sex couples, joining a growing number of Democratic Party politicians. She faces re-election next year.
Hagan made the announcement Wednesday. She had opposed a state constitutional amendment against gay marriage that passed last May. She said it could make it more difficult for companies to recruit talent.
President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage the day after 61 percent of North Carolina voters backed the gay-marriage amendment.
Hagan's position puts her in step with fellow Democrats. U.S. Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Mark Warner of Virginia, this week declared support for gay marriage. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio took that step last week.
(AP) — North Carolina legislators are considering greater separation between taxpayer-funded charter schools and the local or state school boards which run the rest of the state's 2,500 public schools.
A state Senate committee on Wednesday discussed legislation that would make charter schools more aggressive competitors for students and the taxpayer money that follows them.
A new charter school board separate from the state Board of Education would decide things like the financial accountability standards the schools must follow.
The measure would cancel the current requirement that at least half a charter school's teachers be certified. Charter school directors could decide whether to check job applicants for any criminal history. Local school boards would be required to lease available buildings or land to a charter school for $1 a year.
(AP) — A company providing software for sweepstakes gaming parlors says it's leaving North Carolina because it's getting too hard to do business in the state.
International Internet Technologies sent the letter last week to law enforcement agencies.
The company is ceasing operations immediately. It'll take about a week for local operators to wind down operations.
IIT is owned by Chase and Kristin Burns, an Oklahoma couple who are among 57 people indicted in Florida in relation to a chain of sweepstakes cafes affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors say only about 2 percent of the $300 million raised through the charity actually went to help veterans.
The company says its legal problems in Florida make it difficult for them to provide daily support to North Carolina customers.
(AP) — Rivals to Blue Cross Blue shield are backing legislation to eliminate a negotiation technique that state health insurers use with doctors and hospitals.
The others say Blue Cross Blue Shield discourages competition.
The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to prevent insurance company contracts from requiring medical providers to accept the lowest prices for services that they accept from any competing health plans. The bill also would prevent providers from having to disclose their rates with another insurance carrier.
Ken Lewis with the North Carolina Association of Health Plans says Blue Cross uses its sheer size to get the rates it wants.
Blue Cross opposes the bill. Lobbyist Chris Evans says it infringes on its ability to keep costs down for its nearly 4 million members.
(AP) — More than 300 illegal immigrants with permission to stay in the United States applied for special driver's licenses on the first day North Carolina made them available.
The state Division of Motor Vehicles says it processed 314 applications statewide on Monday to young people who qualified under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration initiative extends valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought to the U.S. as children without authorization.
The state DMV last Friday abandoned plans for a special pink-striped license. The new licenses being issued are for a limited term and state in bold red letters that the holder has no lawful status in the country.
Applicants with proper documentation got a temporary certificate valid for 20 days until the licenses are mailed.
(AP) — Thieves keep taking manhole covers in Gastonia to sell as scrap metal, even with a new state law requiring business to document and photograph all metal they buy.
Gastonia officials told The Gaston Gazette that between 30 and 50 manhole covers have disappeared in the city this year.
Last month, a 66-year-old man spent 12 hours trapped underground until someone heard his cries for help after he fell into an open hole after hopping over a concrete barrier. City officials think the manhole cover protecting the hole was stolen.
With scrap metal going for about 10 cents a pound, the manhole covers are worth anywhere from about $9 to $30 apiece.
Businesses can be fined or eventually shut down for a week if they accept stolen scrap metal.
(AP) — Officials in Davidson County say a mechanic has died after a tractor-trailer he was repairing fell on him.
Larry James, interim director of the Davidson County Emergency Services, said 22-year-old Paul Peterson was pronounced dead at the scene.
James said Peterson was working under the front of a tractor-trailer when it fell on him and pinned him underneath late Monday afternoon. He said bystanders tried to get Peterson out from beneath the tractor-trailer, but were unable to free him.
James didn't know what caused the tractor-trailer to fall. He said the N.C. Department of Labor was conducting an investigation into the accident.
(AP) — A new study ranks Wake County as the healthiest in North Carolina.
The University of Wisconsin released the rankings, which show the county has a relatively low smoking rate of 14 percent, compared to 21 percent for the state. It also cites the number of primary physicians and dentists available in the county.
The study released Wednesday says 12 percent of Wake County residents are in poor or fair health, compared to 18 percent statewide.
Columbus County ranked as the unhealthiest county, with 37 percent of children living in poverty, compared to 25 percent statewide. The study says 28 percent of its residents are in poor or fair health.
Most of the unhealthiest counties are in southeastern or northeastern North Carolina. The healthiest counties tend to be clustered around cities.
(AP) — North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights — once stolen but only recently recovered — has made a brief public appearance at the old Capitol building where historians say a Union soldier likely took it as the Civil War ended.
State officials brought out the 1789 document Monday on the 10th anniversary of the sting operation that led to North Carolina getting back the fading manuscript. It was taken to the 1840 Capitol Building in a small parade led by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and schoolchildren holding American flags and displayed for several hours behind glass.
The document was displayed publicly in 2007 during a seven-city tour and lecture series.
The General Assembly planned to meet Monday evening in the same building and approve a resolution highlighting the anniversary.
(AP) — Rowan County commissioners have opened their latest public meeting with a prayer, one week after the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit over the practice.
The Salisbury Post reports that commission vice chairman Craig Pierce began Monday's meeting by praying for "intelligence, wisdom and courage" and ended the prayer to his "personal lord and savior."
Attorney Bryce Neier of the Alliance Defending Freedom encouraged the commissioners to stand up to the ACLU. Neier worked with Forsyth County when it was sued over prayer during public meetings
The complaint filed last Tuesday in U.S. District Court by the ACLU accuses the board of violating the First Amendment provision ordaining the separation of church and state by routinely praying to Jesus Christ to start its meetings.
(AP) — A Winston-Salem Methodist church is scheduled to discuss its decision to forgo marriages for heterosexual couples until United Methodist pastors are allowed to officiate at marriages for same-sex couples.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Green Street United Methodist Church is holding a news conference Sunday at the church.
The church's 18-member leadership council has asked pastors to conduct relationship blessings rather than marriage ceremonies in the sanctuary until the United Methodist Church changes its policies.
In its initial announcement released through Equality NC, the church said it sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of its denomination. The council wants the church's ministers to join others who refuse to sign any state marriage licenses until the same rights are granted to same-sex couples.
(AP) — A spokesman for Speaker Thom Tillis is confirming that a House bill on voter identification likely will include IDs such as expired drivers' licenses for older people and those that colleges issue for students.
Spokesman Jordan Shaw confirmed Sunday to the Associated Press the House bill will include such IDs. He emphasized the House doesn't have a bill yet.
Tillis first made the comments in an MSNBC interview Saturday in which he said voter fraud isn't the main reason for considering a voter ID requirement. He said the main reason is to restore voters' confidence in government.
The House Election Committee held a hearing Thursday about requiring photo IDs. Panelists said voter fraud rarely occurs in North Carolina elections.
Photo ID supporters said traditional methods to identify voters no longer work.
Okla. man arrested in Fla. probe gave to NC governor
Friday, March 15, 2013
(AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says he has given to charity campaign cash he received from an Oklahoma man who has been charged in a Florida gambling probe.
Records show Chase Egan Burns of Anadarko, Okla., and his wife gave $8,000 to McCrory's campaign in October. Burns gave another $55,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party, and nearly $92,000 to GOP and Democratic legislators.
Burns and his wife are accused of owning gambling parlors in Florida that operated under Allied Veterans, a charity accused of being a front for a nearly $300 million gambling operation.
McCrory's spokeswoman said Thursday the governor gave $8,000 to a Durham homeless charity. House Democrats also announced they will donate their contributions.
NCDOT tries to keep boaters from flashing truckers
Thursday, March 14, 2013
(AP) — State transportation officials want to make sure truckers using Interstate 77 around Lake Norman keep their eyes on the road and not on the boaters trying to get their attention.
WCNC in Charlotte reports the N.C. Department of Transportation believes the boaters are causing traffic delays because some women flash the truckers, who slow down to get a better look. As a result, NCDOT installed buoys around the causeway with signs that say no boats are allowed to stop or dock between that point and the interstate.
Officials have also installed signs for Accident Investigation Sites at certain ramps so drivers can move minor accidents away from high traffic areas.
(AP) — The North Carolina House says campus police at private colleges should be required to provide the same information about arrests and emergency calls as public universities and city police must do.
House members agreed unanimously Wednesday to legislation making clear private college police must produce records if asked by the public.
The bill now goes to the Senate nearly a week after the state Supreme Court left unresolved a case involving the release of records by Elon University police. The justices' 3-3 decision means a lower court ruling stands but has no legal precedence. The legal case started when Elon school police said it didn't have to produce all the data a student reporter sought about an arrest.
(AP) — A North Carolina state senator is introducing legislation aimed at streamlining the process for executing those sentenced to death.
State Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover) introduced a measure Wednesday that makes several changes to laws governing the administration and appeal of capital punishment, including the complete repeal of the state's Racial Justice Act already severely weakened by legislators last year.
Flanked by prosecutors from across the state, Goolsby, decried that none of the 152 inmates on North Carolina's death row have been executed since 2006 due to various legal appeals.
It's not immediately clear what, if any, impact the new bill would have on speeding up those pending cases. However, Goolsby said the legislature should send a strong message that the families of murder victims deserve justice.
(AP) — A Graham woman has entered an Alford plea and been sentenced as a habitual felon for selling stolen cars to auto salvage businesses.
The Times-News of Burlington reports 39-year-old Anita Kay Lloyd entered the Alford plea on three counts of obtaining property by false pretense and attaining habitual felon status. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there's enough evidence for a conviction.
In exchange, the state dismissed charges of felony forgery and felony uttering.
Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski said Lloyd was charged last May with helping sell 10 motor vehicles to auto salvage yards, and with helping steal a semi-trailer from a residence and selling it to a recycling business.
(AP) — North Carolina citizens are trying to persuade House members to their way of thinking on requiring citizens to show photo identification before voting.
The House Elections Committee heard Tuesday from three dozen people in the first two hours of a voter ID public hearing. More than 100 people have signed up to speak. House Republicans say they wanted to hear from citizens before introducing a bill they want passed and sent to Gov. Pat McCrory this year.
Jo Nicholas with the League of Women Voters says she opposes photo ID in part because there's no evidence voter fraud is a widespread problem in the state.
Adelle Park represented a Moore County tea party group. Park says she had to show ID to vote in northeastern states and makes sense here.
(AP) — North Carolina regulators are holding their latest hearing into a request by Duke Energy to raise electricity bills by almost 10 percent for nearly 2 million customers of Progress Energy Carolinas.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission scheduled a hearing in Raleigh on Wednesday to discuss the rate increase sought by the Duke Energy subsidiary that delivers electricity in eastern North Carolina.
Progress Energy Carolinas wants to increase electric rates by an average of 9.7 percent, an amount estimated to raise another nearly $390 million. The company says it needs the rate increase to recover money it has already invested in new cleaner, more efficient power plants.
Duke Energy won a 7.2 percent increase last year, down from its 17 percent request.
(AP) — An employee for a contractor for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is on administrative leave during an investigation of how data about 50,000 medical providers nationwide were lost.
CSC says it can't locate a thumb drive lost while being delivered between company facilities in North Carolina. A company spokeswoman said Monday the employee works on the state's new Medicaid billing system.
The company says data included Social Security numbers and birth dates related to providers barred from participating in federal health care programs. The data included nearly 1,200 North Carolina medical providers but no patient information.
The state health department announced last Friday it told CSC to perform an outside review of its security. The company says affected providers are being notified this week.
(AP) — Dozens of citizens and interest groups are prepared to try to persuade North Carolina House members to their way of thinking on requiring citizens to show photo identification before voting.
The House Elections Committee scheduled a public hearing Tuesday afternoon in Raleigh. It's part of what Republicans call a deliberative and fair approach to developing a voter ID bill they hope ultimately is approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.
GOP legislators passed a photo ID requirement in 2011 but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.
Supporters say the public wants the requirement to discourage voter fraud. Civil rights groups and their allies say any such law would erode voting rights and they'll fight it in court.
(AP) — A document written for liberal-leaning groups brainstorming how to fight back against Gov. Pat McCrory and fellow Republican legislative leaders has shaken up North Carolina's political landscape.
Strategy memos by consultants evaluating a politician or party's strengths and weaknesses aren't unusual. But the draft memo attributed to the state affiliate of a national political group called America Votes surprised many for its bluntness.
The document suggested mitigating Republican legislation by "crippling their leaders" through a series of political maneuvers and "eviscerating" them.
The memo's disclosure couldn't have come at a better time for GOP leaders and McCrory. Democrats had criticized them for weeks for supporting bills they say hurt the poor. Now Republicans can say people aligned with Democrats are all about personal attacks.
GIBSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Investigators say a space heater caused a fire that killed two children in Guilford County.
Authorities said the grandfather of 4-year-old Matthew Ridge-Powls and 1-year-old Jade Hawks tried to rescue them from both inside and outside the home after the fire started around 6:45 a.m. Saturday, but couldn't save them.
Investigators say the children's bodies were found together in the same bed.
Firefighters say the blaze started when a space heated got too close to some combustible material. It has been ruled an accident.
Authorities say the home didn't have working smoke detectors.
Clocks to spring forward this weekend for daylight savings
Friday, March 8, 2013
It's more than a presidential campaign slogan.
It's also a directive on the second Sunday of March — this weekend — for clocks in the United States to move forward one hour under daylight-saving time. This means more afternoon sun.
The official clocks of the United States government will change by an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates daylight savings and time zones in the country.
Clocks detached from today's omnipresent Internet will have to be changed manually — unless you are in the rare places in the United States, such as parts of Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other island territories that don't prescribe to the change.
(AP) — Motorists heading south on Interstate 85 in North Carolina will have new lanes to travel to start their weekend.
The N.C. Department of Transportation says drivers can begin using the newly constructed outside lanes of I-85 South from just south of Belmont Road to just south of Clark Road in Davidson County. The traffic shift starts Friday at 8 p.m. and will end on Saturday 6 a.m.
Moving traffic onto the new outside lanes of I-85 is necessary for phase two of the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project. The shift allows crews to begin construction on the new inside lanes of I-85.
By late summer, the contractor is scheduled to open the interstate to four lanes in each direction from just north of N.C. 150 to just north of I-85 Business.
(AP) — While North Carolina's public schools have shown improvements in graduation rates and other indicators, teacher pay dropped to among the lowest in the country as the state struggled through the recession.
A report Wednesday to the State Board of Education says teacher pay in North Carolina ranks 46th in the country, above only Mississippi and West Virginia among 12 Southeastern states.
One out of nine teachers earn the lowest salary of about $31,000 because there are few meaningful raises until the fifth year on the job.
The report says public schools have lost more than 4,000 teachers within the first three years of their careers since 2008. Losing newcomers is especially a problem in North Carolina, which has a strategy of coaching up rookies rather than bringing in veteran teachers.
(AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory has signed four bills into law, including a measure that prevents North Carolina for now from participating in parts of the federal health care overhaul.
McCrory's office said the governor signed the legislation late Wednesday afternoon in the old Capitol building in Raleigh.
One new law blocks the state from expanding Medicaid to cover more lower-income people and from operating an online health care marketplace. The federal government will run the exchange instead.
Another law ensures group homes and Alzheimer's care units can access state funds to deal with Medicaid coverage changes. There's also legislation that will allow a live possum drop to continue on New Year's Eve in Brasstown. Another increases penalties for protests at funerals.
(AP) — North Carolina's university and community college systems would no longer be allowed to enroll illegal immigrants under legislation filed by some House Republicans.
The bill filed Tuesday would overturn policies by the University of North Carolina system and state community college system. Students can attend these schools now only if they graduated from a U.S. high school and pay out-of-state tuition.
The bill would have exceptions for students who already are enrolled at a campus so they can complete a program or for students who are dually enrolled in a high school or secondary school.
The bill's primary sponsors are Reps. George Cleveland of Jacksonville and Chris Whitmire of Rosman.
(AP) — Health officials in Orange County have confirmed an outbreak of norovirus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A statement from the county health department says between Feb. 27 and March 1, approximately 85 students sought medical care for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or fever.
An electronic survey was sent out to students seen by Campus Health Service in an effort to identify a possible common exposure, but the surveys revealed no common source.
As a preventative measure, Campus Dining and Campus Housing are utilizing additional disinfecting measures specifically to eliminate norovirus in facilities where students have been ill.
Individuals are urged to wash their hands and clean commonly touched surfaces with bleach- based cleaning supplies. Food handlers shouldn't work in food service until they're symptom-free for 72 hours.
(AP) — A group of Democratic lawmakers in North Carolina has introduced a bill to grant qualifying illegal immigrants driver licenses that look the same as those issued to everyone else.
The bill filed Thursday is in response to a plan by the administration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to issue driver licenses with a bright pink stripe and the words "NO LAWFUL STATUS" to young adults participating in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration initiative grants valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought to the United States without legal authorization when they were children.
The Division of Motor Vehicles is set to begin issuing the pink licenses March 25. A competing GOP-backed bill would delay the licenses from going out to at least June.
(AP) — The state House wrapped up a week listening to some of North Carolina's top public school educators with teachers who say they're worried about static salaries, low morale and dwindling avenues for professional development.
About 50 teachers — most local teachers of the year in their districts — visited the Legislative Building on Thursday. They talked with Speaker Thom Tillis in the House chamber for nearly two hours. Tillis held similar input sessions with superintendents Tuesday and principals Wednesday.
Teachers statewide received raises this year for the first time since 2008 as lawmakers have struggled to close budget gaps. Tillis told teachers he hoped government savings would generate funds to raise salaries again next school year. He says he wanted teachers to remain involved in influencing legislation.
(AP) —People who need legal information can get it for free on the phone from North Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to help.
The N.C. Bar Association sponsors Friday's event called 4ALL Statewide Service Day. The event began in 2008 and now includes hundreds of volunteers who provide free legal information to thousands of North Carolinians.
Volunteer attorneys will provide the advice from eight call centers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
(AP) — Higher proposed criminal penalties for people who disrupt North Carolina funerals or memorial services are heading to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk for his signature.
The General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to a measure that is in response to an anti-gay Kansas church picketing military funerals nationwide. The Senate passed it unanimously, two weeks after the House did by a similar margin.
The measure requires protesters to stay farther away from mourners and for a longer period of time before and after funeral events than current law. Violations would result in a higher grade misdemeanor and a felony on a second offense.
Members of the Kansas church often hold protests at soldiers' funerals, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.
(AP) — Search warrants indicate the man accused of shooting an N.C. Highway Patrol trooper had bomb-making materials in his Durham apartment.
The warrant is dated Feb. 20 and was released Wednesday. It says authorities found PVC piping, nails and other items later learned to be bomb making items.
According to the warrant, an earlier search of the apartment revealed a digital camera with instructions on how to make bombs. Also found was a large map of Durham on the bedroom wall with locations of police, fire and EMS stations marked.
Authorities charged 23-year-old Mikel Edward Brady with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in the Feb. 19 shooting of Trooper Michael Potts. Brady's girlfriend, 21-year-old Lindsey Smith, is charged with accessory after the fact and harboring a fugitive.
(AP) — Legislation setting a potential March 2015 starting date when North Carolina regulators could begin issuing permits for underground natural gas drilling such as fracking now goes to the House.
The Senate gave its final approval Wednesday in a 39-7 vote to the measure that bill supporters say will give potential drilling operators certainty that North Carolina wants companies to explore for energy. Tentative Senate approval came Tuesday.
The General Assembly authorized fracking in 2012 but said permits couldn't be issued without the express consent of legislators. Drilling rules will be ready late next year.
The bill also sets up severance taxes on energy production and urges Gov. Pat McCrory to work on offshore energy exploration.
Environmental groups say the process is going too fast and fracking threatens water quality.
(AP) — North Carolina farmers want state legislators to lobby Congress to pass an immigration law overhaul so they can hire more people to work in fields and the state's agriculture industry can meet increasing food demands worldwide. About 300 people associated with the North Carolina Farm Bureau visited the Legislative Building on Wednesday and held a news conference to discuss a survey of state farmers. The bureau said farmers are worried about losing income, downsizing operations or in some cases shutting down if a state-mandated E-Verify requirement stays in place without an improved federal guest-worker program. Companies that employ as few as 25 workers will have to check work authorizations starting this July, although there are exemptions for some seasonal workers.
(AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says he supports issuing distinctively marked drivers licenses to some illegal immigrants.
McCrory told The Associated Press Monday he signed off on what he called the "pragmatic compromise" unveiled earlier this month by his transportation secretary to issue licenses to young adults in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration initiative grants valid federal work permits to qualified applicants brought to the United States without legal authorization when they were children.
McCrory declined to say what he thought of the proposed design for the licenses, which includes a bright pink stripe and the words "NO LAWFUL STATUS" in bold. But McCrory said the licenses must be clearly marked to prevent the bearer from accessing government services or registering to vote.
(AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says he asked President Barack Obama and some of his Cabinet questions about issues he's concerned about during a visit to Washington — but didn't always get the full answer he wanted.
McCrory attended his first National Governors Association meetings over the weekend.
McCrory said in an interview he asked Obama during a meeting earlier Monday with other governors about prospects for expanding offshore energy exploration in the Atlantic. The governor said he was told the issue was being studied but didn't get an answer about when the study would be complete.
McCrory also said he asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about operating waivers for Medicaid to save the state money, but waiver parameters sound narrow.
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Environment agency head out to earn trust, respect
Monday, February 25, 2013
(AP) — The new head of North Carolina's environmental agency is trying to persuade businesses and Republican legislators that things will be different at his department after years of their frustrations and suspicions.
John Skvarla is secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He's been telling lawmakers he's out to earn their trust and respect. He says he wants to treat businesses seeking development permits like customers.
Skvarla most recently was CEO of a company that restored wetlands and protected streams, in turn helping developers get environmental permits to build elsewhere.
He says agency regulators have been too zealous in siding with the environment at times while forgetting that businesses seeking permits create jobs. But Skvarla says rules and regulations still must be followed.
Driver in NC crash that killed 6 was legally drunk
Friday, February 22, 2013
(AP) — Authorities in Spencer say the driver of an SUV involved in a crash that killed her and five other people was legally drunk at the time of the wreck.
Spencer Police Chief M.T. James say blood alcohol samples results were .13 percent and .14 percent for Angela M. Dunlap. The legal limit for drinking and driving in North Carolina is .08 percent.
Authorities previously had said the 28-year-old originally was traveling 67 mph in a zone where the posted limit is 30 mph. Police say the SUV was traveling about 57 mph when it hit a small tree Jan. 18. The car then struck a larger tree and burst into flames.
Speed calculations were obtained from the vehicle's onboard computer that records crash data.
Former NC State coach apologizes after tax charges
Friday, February 22, 2013
(AP) — Former North Carolina State men's basketball coach Sidney Lowe has apologized to family and friends after being arrested on tax charges and says he's working to resolve the issue.
The state Department of Revenue says Lowe didn't file returns in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Those were the last three years he coached the Wolfpack. He was arrested Monday and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond on the misdemeanor charges.
Lowe is now an assistant with the NBA's Utah Jazz.
In a statement from his Raleigh-based attorney E. Lee Turner, Jr., Lowe apologized to his family and friends in North Carolina for the news, adding that he takes the charges very seriously.
Lowe also said he will continue to cooperate with everyone involved in the legal process.
(AP) — The North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper who was shot during a traffic stop is back at home.
First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said Thursday that Michael Potts was released from a hospital and is resting at home with his family.
Potts was shot four times Monday during a traffic stop in Durham. Two people are charged in the shooting: 23-year-old Mike Edward Brady of Randolph, Vt., and Brady's girlfriend, 21-year-old Lyndsey Smith of Durham.
Brady is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, while Smith is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
(AP) — A bill that would legalize medical marijuana possession and use in North Carolina has been rejected by a legislative committee.
The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday to give an unusual "unfavorable report" to the measure after brief debate and public comment. The decision means this bill and the issue are likely dead at the General Assembly through 2014.
The bill would have provided immunity from state prosecution for patients with debilitating conditions and caregivers for having the drug. Certain medical marijuana sales would have been taxed.
Catherine Lyles of Raleigh is a brain tumor survivor who spoke to the committee. She said later that using marijuana had relieved her nausea from other drugs she had received to fight her illness.
(AP) — The girlfriend of a Vermont man charged with shooting and wounding a North Carolina state trooper is now facing charges in the case.
North Carolina officials say 21-year-old Lyndsey Smith, of Durham, was arrested Wednesday and charged with being an accessory after the fact in the shooting of Trooper Michael Potts during a traffic stop Monday in Durham.
Mikel Edward Brady, of Randolph, Vt., is being held on $8 million bail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill Potts, who was shot four times. Potts is recovering from his wounds.
Brady's criminal record dates to 2007 and includes multiple convictions. He failed to report to his probation officer in Vermont in October. Since then he has been listed as an escape.
(AP) — Tougher penalties for people who make highly addictive methamphetamine using an ingredient found in some cold medicines are sailing through the General Assembly.
The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for a bill making it a felony for someone to possess a product with pseudoephedrine if the person has been convicted previously of making meth. The bill now heading to the Senate also would increase sentences by up to four years for people convicted of manufacturing the drug where a child or disabled or elder adult live.
Bill supporters include Attorney General Roy Cooper, who says it would strengthen law enforcement efforts to fight meth labs, which often are found in homes. He says a simpler method to make the drug contributed to a record 460 lab busts in North Carolina last year.
(AP) — Republicans in the North Carolina House want to repeal a tax on multi-million dollar estates that they say encourages the wealthy to move out of state and hurts family-owned farms.
The House Finance Committee approved a bill Wednesday to end the state's estate tax.
State law exempts the first $5.25 million of the estate of someone who dies, just like the federal estate tax. A decision last month by Congress means estates could be forced to pay additional state taxes unless laws are changed.
Democrats opposing the bill say the current tax affects less than 1 percent of estates. They say the change would cost the state $52 million next year.
Senate leader Phil Berger said this week his idea of fair tax reform would include repealing the estate tax.
(AP) — A high school basketball player at a private school in Greensboro has died after he collapsed during a game.
A school spokesman said Josh Level of New Garden Fields High School in Greensboro died after he collapsed with about 3 minutes to go during the game Tuesday night with Quality Education Academy of Winston-Salem.
The junior was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where he died.
Counselors were at the school Wednesday to talk with students.
New Garden Fields is a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Quaker school founded in 1971.
(AP) Authorities say an NFL player has been arrested at a New York airport after police found a handgun in his luggage. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was arraigned Monday on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and posted $10,000 bond. He was arrested at LaGuardia Airport as he was about to board a US Airways flight to Raleigh, N.C.
(AP) — A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper is recovering after being shot during a traffic stop in Durham. Officers continued to search Tuesday morning for the suspect in the shooting of Trooper Mike Potts. He had surgery last night at Duke University Hospital and is listed in fair condition.
(AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is getting ready for his first State of the State speech.
The former Charlotte mayor was scheduled to visit the House chamber Monday evening to speak to a joint session of the General Assembly in Raleigh and before a statewide television audience. McCrory should get a hearty welcome at the capitol since fellow Republicans control the legislature.
McCrory has talked for more than a year about how he'd lead the state and has spent the last month since taking office learning the ropes of state government. Medicaid, unemployment insurance and state infrastructure have been on his things-to-do list so far.
Previous governors have used the biennial address to highlight provisions in their upcoming two-year budgets. McCrory's budget isn't expected until mid-March.
(AP) — In the first weeks of this year's North Carolina General Assembly, Republican majorities are moving quickly on measures they call tough medicine for tough economic times. Critics say the plans plainly hurt poor people.
Priorities include legislation cutting unemployment checks and shortening the length of time the jobless can collect. A measure rejecting a Medicaid expansion to provide health care coverage to about 500,000 residents could get a final vote Monday. And a third measure would shave a subsidy for the working poor, cutting the state's Earned Income Tax Credit as the federal credit increases.
Bridgette Burge of Raleigh is unemployed and receives $422 per week in federal emergency benefits. She would lose it without a full-time job by July.
NC refusal to health care law nears McCrory's desk
Friday, February 15, 2013
(AP) — Legislation to prevent North Carolina from accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid and run an online marketplace for private health insurance policies could soon be ready for Gov. Pat McCrory's signature.
The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation that declines participation in portions of the federal Affordable Care Act by a largely party-line vote of 75-42. The chamber gave initial approval Wednesday. The measure now returns to the Senate, which approved a slightly different version last week.
McCrory and other Republicans argue the state Medicaid agency isn't prepared to cover an additional 500,000 people starting next year and that operating costs for the expansion aren't settled.
Democrats call the holdback a political move that denies care to the uninsured, even though it would cost the state nothing through 2016.
(AP) — The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who qualify for federal work papers, starting March 25.
Thursday's announcement by DMV Commissioner Tony Tata comes less than a month after the North Carolina attorney general's office said the agency was legally required to issue licenses to those qualified under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Federal authorities began accepting applications in August from immigrants brought to the United States without authorization as minors, granting those who qualify for work papers with an opportunity for renewal after two years.
Immigrant advocacy groups and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union praised the decision by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's administration as a victory for rule of law.
(AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly has given new Gov. Pat McCrory an early legislative victory that builds on his education campaign platform last year.
The House gave overwhelming final approval Wednesday to a bill creating new kinds of high school diplomas and course plans that emphasize vocational or career paths that don't require four-year college degrees.
The measure tells the State Board of Election to issue diplomas beginning in the 2014-15 school year to carry new seals endorsing graduates as "career ready," ''college ready" or both. The board would report to an oversight committee by early next year on its plans.
The bipartisan bill also tells the state board to re-examine teacher licensing rules for career and technical fields.
McCrory has been a strong proponent of re-emphasizing vocational education.
NC House advances holdback on health care overhaul
Thursday, February 14, 2013
(AP) — North Carolina legislators are renewing the fight over whether the federal health overhaul law now being rolled out is a common-sense effort to hold down medical costs or a march toward socialized medicine.
The state House on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that would refuse federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 500,000 low-income residents. The measure also leaves it to Washington to manage an online marketplace for private health insurance policies for those who now have the hardest time finding coverage.
The measure passed mostly along party lines. Republicans who want to limit the state's contact with President Barack Obama's health care law have a veto-proof majority. Final House approval is expected Thursday. The Senate passed an earlier version last week.
(AP) — A bill intended to settle a legal fight in North Carolina over an unusual New Year's Eve tradition involving an opossum has cleared a hurdle. The bill was given preliminary approval in the state House Tuesday by a vote of 101 to 13. Another vote is set for Wednesday before it heads to the Senate. The measure gives the Wildlife Resources Commission authority to permit the organizer of the Brasstown Possum Drop to display a wild-caught animal. By tradition, the marsupial is suspended in a tinsel-covered box and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released. A judge agreed in November with lawyers for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that issuing such a permit is illegal under current state law. PETA says the annual event is inhumane.
(AP) — The North Carolina House is unanimously backing efforts to increase criminal penalties for people who disrupt a funeral or memorial service in response to an anti-gay Kansas church picketing military funerals nationwide. The House voted 118-0 on Tuesday for the bill that also would require protesters to stay farther away from mourners and funeral services. The measure now goes to the Senate. Violating the proposed law would result in a higher grade misdemeanor and a felony on a second offense. The law is in response to a small Baptist church in Kansas whose members often hold protests at soldiers' funerals, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.
(AP) — Three family members have drowned in a retention pond in High Point.
Emergency officials say a man, his wife and her daughter went swimming around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Police say the victims were 30-year-old Kenny Jordon, 33-year-old Heather Jordon and 12-year-old Nikki Simpkins.
Fire Department battalion chief Tim Wright said the water was between 43 and 46 degrees when the family went into the water near their home. The air temperature was about 29 degrees.
Wright says hypothermia would have set in within five minutes.
Police Capt. Mike Kirk says the victims and another adult and two juveniles walked to the pond and five of the six went into the water He says two of the people got out quickly but the others were unable to do so.
Medical marijuana boosters rally at NC legislature
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
(AP) — North Carolina medical marijuana advocates are planning to rally outside the Legislature in support of a legalization bill.
The North Carolina chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is urging supporters to come to Raleigh on Tuesday to lobby state legislators on the issue.
The Enact Medical Cannabis Act filed by two Democratic lawmakers last week would allow state residents to possess and use small amounts of pot with a doctor's prescription. Past marijuana legalization bills haven't gone anywhere with North Carolina lawmakers and the current effort faces an uphill fight at the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
(AP) — It's not every day North Carolina's legislature takes up a bill involving the fate of captive nocturnal marsupials, so lawmakers figured they might as well have some fun.
The "Opossum Right-to-Work Act" introduced Wednesday gives the state explicit authority to permit the organizer of a New Year's Eve Possum Drop to display a wild-caught animal. By tradition, the trapped opossum is suspended in a tinsel-covered box and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.
A judge agreed in November with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that such a permit was improper under state law, so legislators are changing the law.
Co-sponsor Sen. Stan Bingham, a Davidson County Republican, said that after years of budget shortfalls and other serious issues, it's high time for a little levity.
(AP) — Additional penalties for people who make methamphetamine in North Carolina or possess a key ingredient in making it have been approved by a House committee.
A House judiciary panel voted Wednesday in support of the measure recommended by a study group that looked at how to prevent the spread of the highly addictive drug, produced with volatile chemicals that can lead to explosions.
The measure would make it a felony for someone to possess a product with pseudoephedrine — often cold medicines — if the person has been convicted previously of making meth. These cold medicines remain behind drug store counters and its sales are monitored.
People who make meth where a child or disabled or elder adult live also could see their sentences increased by up to four years.
Gun rights advocates push agenda at NC Legislature
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
(AP) — A gun-rights group says North Carolina's school principals and teachers should have the right to carry concealed firearms into the classroom.
About 300 people rallied Tuesday outside the Legislative Building in Raleigh to voice support for new state laws intended to resist any federal restrictions on what several called their God-given right to bear arms.
Many carried empty gun holsters to the event organized by the pro-gun Grass Roots North Carolina to protest the prohibition of firearms on state property. The crowd hoisted flags and signs featuring such slogans as "Guns Save Lives," as well as a placard featuring a doctored photo of President Barack Obama in a Nazi SS uniform.
Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis said last week he doesn't support arming teachers as a solution to gun violence.
(AP) — A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers have introduced a bill that would give the state the explicit authority to allow the organizer of a New Year's Eve Possum Drop to use a live animal.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals successfully sued the state Wildlife Resources Commission over a permit allowing the organizer of the annual event in Brasstown to trap a wild possum. Traditionally, the fuzzy marsupial was suspended in a clear box adorned with tinsel and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.
The bill introduced Monday would grant the commission the ability to issue permits for wild animals to be held captive for "scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes." Among the bill's sponsors is House Speaker Thom Tillis, who has attended the Possum Drop.
(AP) — Some North Carolina state employees, teachers and retirees could see even higher premiums if they smoke or fail to make other personal health choices starting next year.
The State Health Plan's trustee board approved Monday new premium rates that would go up on average by 4.7 percent annually in 2014 and 2015. Enrollees in more generous plans would have to pay a $20-per-month surcharge for smoking and another $20 per month if they fail to choose a primary care doctor and take a health assessment.
State workers would continue to keep zero premiums for the less generous plan, but they would be subject to similar surcharges in 2016.
Board members hope the plan will encourage healthier lifestyles.
The health plan provides insurance for 668,000 employees, retirees and their dependents.
(AP) — A Davidson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit which sought to keep authorities in North Carolina from enforcing a ban on Internet sweepstakes businesses,
The Dispatch of Lexington reports that Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson allowed a motion Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed last week by two sweepstakes stakeholders in Davidson County.
International Internet Technologies and a local business owner were seeking a preliminary injunction, enjoining authorities from enforcing a sweepstakes ban until a judge could make a ruling about the company's new software.
The state argued a recent decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court to uphold the sweepstakes ban already decided the matter.
(AP) — Former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley is again allowed to practice law, two years after his license was suspended following a felony plea.
The North Carolina State Bar on Monday reinstated the two-term Democratic governor and former attorney general's law license. State Bar Secretary L. Thomas Lunsford II wrote in his order that Easley satisfied the requirements of his suspension.
Easley accepted criminal responsibility in November 2010 for an improperly filed campaign finance report. Easley's Alford plea for the lowest-grade felony in state law focused on a 2006 helicopter flight worth $1,600 that wasn't reported.
The conviction ended both state and federal investigations into the ex-governor that began shortly after he left office in 2009.
Easley has practiced law since 1976 after graduating from North Carolina Central University law school.
(AP) — Barring a change in state law, the annual New Year's Eve Possum Drop in the mountains of North Carolina will have to carry on without a live animal.
The North Carolina Wildlife Commission filed for dismissal Thursday from a pending court fight over whether it can issue a permit allowing the event's organizer in Brasstown to trap a wild opossum. Traditionally, the fuzzy marsupial was suspended in a clear box adorned with tinsel and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.
The commission's decision to withdraw hands victory to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which called the Possum Drop cruel. The organization filed a court challenge last year over whether the state could legally permit a wild animal to be displayed in such a manner.
(AP) — A state senator is proposing to let North Carolina public schools create "safety marshals" who would know how to use a gun during a campus crisis.
Republican Sen. Stan Bingham of Denton filed legislation Thursday that would allow local school boards or charter schools to designate school employees, volunteers or others as a school safety marshal.
The State Board of Education would work with the state agency that trains law enforcement officers to develop an emergency management program and set standards for marshals that would include firearms and how to use them around unarmed bystanders.
Bingham said the marshal wouldn't carry a gun at school but would have access to one in case of an emergency. No word on if or when the bill will be heard.
NC unemployment debt fix considered by House panel
Thursday, January 31, 2013
(AP) — The state House is tackling North Carolina's unemployment insurance debt problem early in this year's session with legislation supporters say is fair but critics argue hurts displaced workers more.
Proponents of the proposal being heard Thursday in the House Finance Committee say it requires businesses and jobless workers to share the burden to accelerate the repayment of $2.5 billion owed the federal government. The bill also generates reserves so the state can prepare more benefits in the next economic downturn.
The plan requires businesses to pay higher unemployment insurance taxes and reduces maximum weekly benefits by about one-third to $350 for those unemployed after July 1. Supporters say benefit levels fall in line with nearby states but worker advocates say the argument won't help jobless workers with rent or groceries.
(AP) — A judge in Davidson County has issued an order blocking police from taking any products from sweepstakes businesses that use a specific company's software.
The Dispatch of Lexington reported that Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson wrote the order to temporarily block police from seizing any products from businesses that use software licensed by International Internet Technologies.
Davidson County sheriff's deputies charged the operators of a business in Midway with illegal possession of electronic machines and other devices for sweepstakes. The move came after the North Carolina Supreme Court said a 2010 law banned the machines.
Owners of the business and ITT filed a complaint earlier this month saying a recent change in the software made it comply with state law.
(AP) — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is inviting North Carolinians living in or visiting Washington, D.C., to have coffee and doughnuts at her office.
Every Wednesday when the Senate is in session, Hagan says people can visit her office from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Her staff serves Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Stockton & Graham coffee, which is roasted in North Carolina.
The Carolina Coffee events will be held the next three Wednesdays at her office at 521 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Hagan says the events are a good way to discuss voters' questions in an informal setting.
(AP) — Someone drove a 2013 red Chevrolet Camaro off the showroom floor at a dealership in Mooresville. Police say the problem is they did it after the dealership was closed.
Authorities say the suspects broke in through a door at Randy Marion Chevrolet around 11 p.m. Monday and took off with the Camaro parked on the showroom floor. Surveillance video showed the suspects driving up in a black SUV and driving away with the car moments later.
The Camaro is valued at $58,500.
The dealership is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the case.
(AP) — Advocates for the unemployed are calling on North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to live for one week on the maximum weekly unemployment benefit of $350 that lawmakers are considering.
They held a news conference Monday, challenging McCrory and legislators "to literally put their money where their mouth is" and survive for one week on $350.
Kevin Rogers of Action NC says the proposed cut to unemployment benefits contrasts sharply with McCrory's raises to Cabinet secretaries. McCrory told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he gave the raises of a combined 8 percent so the Cabinet leaders "can afford to live."
A House committee meets Thursday to discuss decreasing the maximum unemployment benefit from about $535 weekly.
A McCrory spokeswoman said she would have a response to the challenge later.
(AP) — A Washington-based conservative-leaning think tank is providing options to North Carolina elected officials on how to overhaul the tax system so that it says the state's tax climate would improve significantly.
The Tax Foundation released Monday a study commissioned by the Carolina Business Coalition, whose board includes former BB&T Corp. chief executive John Allison and ex-GlaxoWellcome CEO Bob Ingram.
The report highlights four ideas it says the General Assembly should consider, providing advantages and disadvantages to all. The options adjust state sales tax and individual income tax rates up and down and reduce or eliminate the corporate income taxes.
Republican legislative leaders say this year they want to modernize the tax system and lower income taxes or end them all together. The General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday
(AP) — A man who took more than $2 million from friends and charities is back in custody after his arrest at an armed standoff at a Salisbury church.
Authorities said 52-year-old John Knox Bridges was arrested Saturday evening at Maupin Avenue ARP Church in Salisbury. A judge had issued a fugitive warrant Friday when Bridges didn't attend his sentencing in federal court in Charlotte.
The Charlotte native stole $600,000 from the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation while he served on the foundation's board. He was also accused of taking $600,000 from North Carolina fresco artist Ben Long.
He pleaded guilty in February 2012 to money laundering and securities fraud. Under the plea agreement with prosecutors, Bridges was expected to serve between five and six years in prison.
(AP) — A Hickory police officer's bulletproof vest apparently saved his life after he was shot in the chest while serving a search warrant.
Police said uniformed officers and members of Hickory police's special operations team were serving a drug search warrant at the house on the city's east side Monday night when they were shot at. Authorities say the officers took cover and returned fire.
Officials said 40-year-old Michael Lee Watson was shot by police after they were fired upon. Watson was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center for treatment.
Police arrested 21-year-old Kenneth Alexander Hewitt and charged him with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official. He's jailed under $500,000 bond. He has not been assigned an attorney.
. (AP) — Investigators say someone stole thousands of dollars in equipment from a Fayetteville youth athletic facility, but was thoughtful enough to apologize for the damage they caused and praise the target for its work.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said a thief or thieves broke into 360 Elite Baseball Academy late on Jan. 16. Taken were three television sets, a computer, baseball uniforms, batting gloves, sports team necklaces and candy. Sheriff's office spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said whoever took the equipment entered through a back door.
In the midst of the mess, a note was discovered. It read, "Sorry about the mess and the drywall damage, I think what you are doing here is a good thing."
The academy offers training for teams and individuals in baseball and softball.
(AP) — Wake County's district attorney says he can find nothing to indicate laws were broken in an accidental shooting at a gun show.
District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Tuesday that no charges will be filed against 36-year-old Gary Lynn Wilson of Wilmington.
State Fairgrounds Police Chief Joel Keith said a 12-gauge shotgun discharged while its owner removed it from its case at a security checkpoint at the entrance to the Dixie Gun and Knife Show last Saturday. A retired sheriff's deputy and two bystanders were hurt.
Wilson brought the weapon to the show to find a private buyer.
The shooting prompted organizers to close for the rest of the day, but the show reopened Sunday without private gun sales.
(AP) — North Carolina's Division of Motor Vehicles is still examining the state attorney general's advice to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants qualifying for federal work papers under an Obama administration program.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, which includes DMV, said Tuesday it will take a few days to review last week's opinion from Attorney General Roy Cooper's office.
Federal officials began in the summer accepting applications from immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors without authorization to receive work papers. The DMV commissioner told his office in September to stop issuing licenses pending legal advice. DMV says 13 people with work papers had been mistakenly issued licenses.
Dozens of young Latinos marched Tuesday morning in Raleigh and urged DOT Secretary Tony Tata to resume issuing licenses.
(AP) — North Carolina's top law enforcement authority says the state should issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who qualify for a federal deferred prosecution program.
The office of Attorney General Roy Cooper on Thursday directed the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles to begin issuing driver's licenses to those granted federal work authorizations under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Federal authorities began accepting those applications in August from immigrants brought to the United States without authorization as minors. State DMV officials decided not to grant driver's licenses to those who qualified, pending direction on whether doing so would violate state law.
In a three-page legal opinion, Cooper's office says issuing licenses to those participants is not only legal, but the DMV is required to do so.
Some North Carolina school systems are expected to delay the start of classes following a winter storm that dumped varying amounts of snow.
The combination of a low pressure system and an influx of cold air brought snow to the northwest mountains Thursday afternoon and into the interior piedmont by the late evening. By early Friday morning, the system was expected to be out of the state.
The storm was preceded by rains that caused nearly 60 landslides in western North Carolina.
National Weather Service forecasters say temperatures should reach the 40s on Friday and the 50s by Saturday before another blast of cold air provides a new round of winter conditions. By Tuesday, highs will range from the 30s in the foothills and mountains to the 40s in eastern counties.
NC NAACP to hold policy briefing on poverty issues
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
(AP) — The state chapter of the NAACP wants North Carolina lawmakers to focus on issues surrounding poverty and economic justice in the legislative session that begins in earnest at the end of the month.
The NAACP will hold a policy briefing and news conference Tuesday morning at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.
State chapter president The Rev. William Barber says the General Assembly should focus on several poverty-related subjects. Barber says those issues include economic ones such as living wages and labor rights; educational equality, including access to community colleges and universities; health care for everyone; inequalities in the justice system; and expanding voting rights.
The civil rights group also will screen Tuesday a documentary based on a "poverty tour" it led last year.
(AP) — Same sex couples are heading to two North Carolina courthouses, knowing they will be turned down for marriage licenses.
The couples are part of a campaign called "We Do," meant to protest bans on gay marriage across the Southeast.
Same-sex couples plan to ask for marriage licenses in Wilson County and Forsyth County on Monday. The couples live in the counties where they are requesting the licenses. The group also plans a prayer service.
The group has already visited courthouses in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee so far this year.
Guilford sheriff starts sweepstakes hall crackdown
Monday, January 14, 2013
(AP) — North Carolina law officers are turning up the heat on video sweepstakes parlors. More law enforcement agencies plan Monday to begin enforcing a state Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on video sweepstakes machines. Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes says his agency will start enforcing the state law outlawing the machines now that operators who have stayed in business during the court process were given time to wind down. Barnes says any sweepstakes parlor operators remaining in business could be arrested and prosecuted. Sweepstakes halls have cropped up because of what state Supreme Court justices called a loophole since video poker machines were outlawed in 2007. The court ruled in two cases last month that a 2010 law banning sweepstakes machines as gambling also regulates the act of playing.
(AP) — North Carolina's top elected leaders may be cutting the rug on the eve of their public swearings-in.
The North Carolina Governor's Inaugural Ball is scheduled for Friday night at the Raleigh Convention Center. The event and preceding Gala Presentation formally honors new Gov. Pat McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest as well as the eight incumbent Council of State members winning re-election in November. About 3,500 people are expected to attend the events.
The ball is put on by the Junior League of Raleigh and raises money for charity.
Friday's events precede the outdoor inaugural ceremony Saturday morning on Capitol Square.
McCrory and Forest already took their oaths of office in smaller ceremonies, but the two will take the oaths again outdoors Saturday with the remaining council members.
(AP) — Former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley wants to practice law again after his license was suspended for two years following a campaign finance-related felony conviction.
Easley's attorney has filed a petition with the North Caroilna State Bar to have his law license reinstated.
The two-term Democratic governor agreed in early 2012 to the suspension, which has started in December 2010. Easley accepted criminal responsibility in November 2010 for an improperly filed campaign finance report.
The petition says Easley has complied with Bar rules and hasn't broken any laws during the suspension period.
The reinstatement occurs if the State Bar agrees Easley has fulfilled all requirements.
The State Bar can object to reinstatement requests and let a special committee hold a hearing on the matter.
(AP) — Police in Greensboro continue their search for a motive in the shooting deaths of two people in a townhome complex.
Authorities said 14-year-old Maurice Edmonds II and his mother, 47-year-old Sandra Palmer were killed. Palmer's daughter, 18-year-old Danielle Jameison, and Palmer's boyfriend and Edmonds' father, 46-year-old Maurice Eugene Edmonds, were wounded.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports that investigators have said they are waiting to talk to the survivors to learn more about what might have caused the shootings at the family home.
Jameison is a 2011 graduate of R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem and a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is majoring in psychology and romance languages. She won a UNC 2015 Distinguished Scholarship and has been on the dean's list since her freshman year.
(AP) — There's no dispute that the crew of the fishing charter boat Citation caught a prize-worthy, 880-pound marlin in June 2010. In their case, it wasn't the fish but the $910,000 tournament prize that got away.
The North Carolina Supreme Court is hearing a court fight Tuesday over whether the Citation's owners can keep and divide the prize money from one of the country's richest deep-sea fishing tournaments.
Big Rock Tournament officials stripped the Hatteras-based boat of the title and $910,000 in winnings because its Virginia-based first mate did not have a North Carolina fishing license when the fish was hooked.
Among the issues are whether the local judge who decided the case should have been involved, since his former law partner and vacation buddy represented the second-place boat.
(AP) — North Carolina's new governor plans to meet with reporters and his cabinet before heading for his first out-of-town trip since taking office.
Gov. Pat McCrory plans his first news conference Monday as well as his first cabinet meeting. McCrory took the oath of office Saturday in a private ceremony. A public gala for the Republican will be held this weekend.
McCrory took the oath early so he could be in office when the Legislature meets for the first time this session on Wednesday.
After the meeting in Raleigh. McCrory plans to head to Asheville to meet with supporters in the first leg of a quick trip around the state. McCrory will visit with people in Greensboro and New Bern on Tuesday and will be in Charlotte on Wednesday.
(AP) — A Greensboro man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing and dismembering his wife.
Winfred Simpson was sentenced Thursday after he was convicted of first-degree murder. Authorities said Simpson killed Retha Simpson because he was angry at her for cheating on him. She also accused him of infidelity.
Court records show Simpson accused his wife of pressuring him into joining a club where husbands and wives would swap partners. He testified he accidentally killed his wife, then was so distraught that he dismembered her.
A day after Retha Simpson was reported missing in March 2010, authorities found her dismembered body in a trash bag.
Winfred Simpson was arrested the same day. Police said they found blood and cleaning supplies at the couple's home while he was being questioned.
(AP) — North Carolina's four new U.S. House members have taken office today along with the rest of the state's congressional delegation.
The four new members are all Republicans, and three of them won previously Democratic seats in November.
Richard Hudson was the only new U.S. House member to knock off an incumbent. He beat Larry Kissell in the 8th District, which is east of Charlotte.
The other new U.S. House members are Robert Pittenger in the 9th District near Charlotte, Mark Meadows in the 11th District in the mountains and George Holding in the 13th District north and east of Raleigh.
After Thursday's swearing in, North Carolina will have one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator. The new U.S. House delegation will have four Democrats and nine Republicans.
NC high court decision on sweepstakes takes effect
Friday, January 4, 2013
(AP) — A North Carolina Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on video sweepstakes machines is going into effect.
The state Supreme Court last month upheld a state law outlawing sweepstakes halls as gambling operations. The court's ruling goes into effect statewide on Thursday.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week rejected the sweepstakes game industry's request to block enforcement while businesses appealed to the country's highest court, a step expected by mid-March.
Enforcement of the video sweepstakes ban was expected to vary widely around the state. A spokesman for the Internet Based Sweepstakes Operators says 90 percent of the state's operators will close down voluntarily, with some reopening using different software and gaming options that will have to be tested with new court cases.
(AP) — Wake County's former embattled school superintendent is taking a job in Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's administration leading North Carolina's Department of Transportation.
McCrory introduced Tony Tata on Thursday while filling out the remainder of his Cabinet. The former Charlotte mayor gets sworn in Saturday.
Tata is a former Army general who arrived in Raleigh to lead the state's largest school system in January 2011. A majority on the board voted to fire him in September. The incoming governor says Tata has skills overseeing large military and education budgets and was involved in transportation projects in the military.
McCrory also named Thursday former state Rep. Bill Daughtridge as the next administration secretary, Sharon Decker of Rutherfordton as commerce secretary and Neal Alexander of Lincoln County as state personnel director.
Perdue heads out on technology tour of public schools on her last full day as govenror
Friday, January 4, 2013
(AP) — Beverly Perdue is spending her final full day as North Carolinas governor by highlighting her passion to expand the use of technology in the public schools. Perdue was scheduled to tour two Onslow County schools Friday morning and recognize the school district for how it uses technology in classrooms. Republican Pat McCrory is slated to be sworn in as North Carolinas next governor Saturday. Perdue plans to attend the ceremony in the old Capitol building. The outgoing Democratic governor successfully sought money from the Legislature early in her four-year team to extend pilot programs where teachers used hand-held computers to monitor student progress. Perdue said last week she intended after leaving office to be part of a foundation that emphasizes education and technology.
(AP) — Incoming North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says his top priorities include changing the state's tax system, and he's promising bankers and business leaders he'll push back if special interests try to protect their advantage.
McCrory spoke Wednesday to about 1,100 people at an event hosted by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the state's chamber of commerce. He'll be sworn into office on Saturday.
McCrory says he believes North Carolina's corporate and personal income tax rates are holding back recovery from the Great Recession. He says he expects businesses lobbyists to work to protect the industries and executives who hire them. But the governor-elect says business leaders can expect a call from him if they seek to put their narrow interest before improvements in the state's long-term economic strength.
Unclear whether live marsupial used at Possum Drop
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
(AP) — The organizer of a New Year's Eve Possum Drop in western North Carolina is keeping folks guessing as to whether he used a live specimen to ring in 2013.
Country store owner Clay Logan lowered an opaque padlocked box adorned with photos of opossums at the stroke of midnight, not revealing what was inside.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed suit earlier this year against the state Wildlife Resources Commission, which had for years issued Logan a permit to trap a wild opossum. A judge ruled in November that it is improper for the state to issue such a permit.
Logan's annual celebration draws thousands to tiny Brasstown, where in past years a live opossum was hoisted high in a see-through box before being gently lowered at midnight.
(AP) — A member of Asheville's city council is proposing a ban on holding gun shows at publicly owned buildings.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Councilman Cecil Bothwell said Tuesday he's interested in the idea in the wake of a shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut school.
Asheville already has an ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms on city-owned property. But gun shows have regularly been held at a city-owned agricultural center and U.S. Cellular Center downtown. One is scheduled at the agricultural center this coming weekend.
Bothwell says the law is clear and that the city should do whatever it can to stem gun violence.
(AP) — The state chapter of the NAACP continues to push for a pardon of innocence for the Wilmington 10, the nine men and one woman wrongly convicted more than 40 years ago in the fire-bombing of a grocery store.
The NAACP and other advocates are pressing Gov. Beverly Perdue to pardon the 10 before she leaves office Jan. 5. Perdue can do nothing or she can issue one of two kinds of pardons: one of innocence and one of forgiveness.
In a news release Saturday, the head of the state NAACP called on Perdue to issue the pardon of innocence. The Rev. William Barber says the NAACP, along with the surviving members of the Wilmington 10 and other supporters, have presented compelling evidence of their innocence to Perdue.
DNC, gay marriage, Perdue mark NC politics in 2012
Monday, December 31, 2012
(AP) — 2012 turned out to be the blockbuster political year for North Carolina that had been predicted. But details weren't as some had anticipated.
The Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in September, marking the first-ever major-party national convention in the state. But North Carolina was the only battleground state President Barack Obama lost on Election Day after he won the state in 2008.
Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage won a May referendum by 22 percentage points, even as opponents called the vote a bellwether on gay rights nationally.
Pat McCrory became the first Republican elected governor in 24 years in November, but he didn't run against Democratic incumbent Beverly Perdue. She surprised the state by announcing in January she wouldn't seek re-election.
(AP) — North Carolina's video sweepstakes halls could be closed soon after the state's highest court refused a request from industry officials to delay those closings while they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the request from the sweepstakes game industry to delay last week's decision that sweepstakes halls are gambling operations. The refusal could shut down hundreds of businesses across North Carolina.
Industry officials say they don't expect the order to be enforced for 20 days, when it becomes final. In the meantime, its attorneys say they'll continue their fight through the courts with further appeals.
The industry had sought a few weeks to see if the U.S. Supreme Court would consider its claim of free-speech protections.
(AP) — Nutrition and weight-loss supplement-maker Herbalife is revamping a defunct Dell Inc. computer manufacturing plant in North Carolina for an East Coast production center that will employ about 500 in three years.
Company officials and Gov. Beverly Perdue said Wednesday that Los Angeles-based Herbalife will invest about $130 million to buy and equip the 750,000-square-foot Dell plant near Winston-Salem that closed two years ago.
Herbalife will get $1 million up-front from North Carolina taxpayers, and up to $5.5 million more in state tax breaks if the company meets its targets and sustains them for 11 years. The company also could collect $3.4 million in local incentives.
State officials said the jobs will pay an average wage of $40,200, below the Forsyth County average of $42,600.
(AP) — North Carolina residents are rushing out to secure weapons permits and buy guns in the wake of the shootings at a Connecticut elementary school.
A gun shop owner in Youngsville in Wake County said many people have come into his store to purchase semiautomatic rifles, in part because they're worried that possible government regulations will ban them.
Aaron Byrd of Patriot Shooting Sports said he had a dozen AR-15s in stock before they were snapped up in about a day and a half.
Julia Rush of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office said they usually see about 50 applications a day. Between last Saturday and Monday, the office received 290 applications.
Rush attributed the increase to the school shootings, but also due to fear over a possible ban on assault weapons.
11 year old killed while getting on the school bus in Kernersville.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Sonny Wesley, 11, died after the collision, which happened around 7 a.m. on N.C. 66 near Shaddowfax Drive.
Wesley was trying to get on the bus when the collision with the Jeep occurred, troopers said. The bus's lights were on, and the stop arm was out, troopers said.
The driver of the Jeep, Billy Roger Bailey, 47, of Kernersville, was coming from the opposite direction, troopers said. Bailey remained at the scene after the crash, troopers said.
It's not yet known if charges will be filed. The driver was going the speed limit, and alcohol wasn't a factor in the crash, either, troopers said.
Wesley was a sixth grader at East Fosyth Middle School, said Theo Helm, spokesman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Wesley had been taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center after the collision, Helm said.
Crews completely shut down the road at the collision scene and set up a detour.
Grief counselors have been made available for students and staff at East Forsyth Middle.
(AP) — A high-ranking law enforcement officer in a small North Carolina county has been arrested after federal authorities say he beat a jailed inmate.
Hertford County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Timothy Lassiter was taken into custody Monday after his felony indictment for violating the civil rights of an inmate in the county jail.
Prosecutors say Lassiter struck and assaulted the inmate on June 12, injuring him. The inmate is identified in the indictment only by the initials T.P. Authorities say he was in the jail awaiting trial.
Lassiter did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Hertford Sheriff Juan E. Vaughan declined to comment, saying he may be called as a witness in the case.
Lassiter faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison if he is convicted.
NC teens arrested in murder may be tried as adults
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
(AP) — A North Carolina prosecutor says he may seek to try four teenagers as adults in the killing of a homeless man whose body was found stuffed in a trash can.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Monday he is likely to seek the transfer of the murder cases against at least some of the teens from the juvenile system due to the severity of the crime.
Raleigh Police arrested three 15-year-old males and a 13-year-old male last week in connection with the death of Regynald Jose Brown, a 37-year-old homeless man whose body was found near a city greenway. A fifth teen is accused of providing assistance after the killing.
State law bars prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in murder cases where the defendants are younger than 18.
(AP) — Like the rest of the country, nearly all North Carolina citizens would face automatic tax increases and see services scaled back without a plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
And it should make North Carolina state leaders even more nervous. The state unemployment rate remains the fifth-highest in the nation, and outside groups calculating the pain of spending cuts said research and defense sectors could lead to tens of thousands of additional job losses in North Carolina.
The "fiscal cliff" refers to the more than $1 trillion in cuts that will be triggered unless Congress and the president come up with a different plan for reducing the deficit by Jan. 1.
The state's high jobless rate also could mean roughly 100,000 people would lose or be unable to receive extended federal unemployment benefits expiring at the end of the month.
(AP) — North Carolina patients are likely to pay more for services ranging from heart tests to routine office visits if their doctors are employed by a hospital, according to an investigation by the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh.
The higher charges are part of a national shift that experts say is raising costs for many patients.
The papers' investigation shows that hospitals are increasingly buying doctors' practices, then sending out bills for routine services that are significantly higher than those charged by the formerly independent doctors.
As a result, the same service performed in the same location by the same doctor can cost more than double what it did before the hospital acquired the practice, according to an analysis of Medicare data and insurance claims by the papers.
(AP) — One North Carolina hospital is restricting visitation to help deal with the flu.
The High Point Enterprise reported that High Point Regional Health System is restricting visitation for people under 18 years old to prevent the spread of the influenza virus.
Infection control manager Cherrie Speagle says restriction is for those under 18 because they may have weaker immune systems and come into contact with more people.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of doctor visits for flu-like illnesses reached the national baseline in mid-November. This is the earliest in the regular season that influenza activity has reached the national baseline level since the 2003-04 season.
(AP) — North Carolina Gov.-elect Pat McCrory says his first trip out of Raleigh after he is sworn into office next month will be to Asheville.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the newly-elected Republican governor made the promise Saturday as he celebrated his victory at the annual Charles Taylor holiday dinner at Grove Park Inn.
McCrory promised he would not forget about the western part of the state. He says he will meet with officials and residents in Asheville on Jan. 7 to discuss the city's water system and other issues. McCrory will be sworn in two days before.
McCrory says he will spend the night at the Governor's Western Residence during his trip west.
(AP) — A General Assembly committee set up to examine what North Carolina can do to crack down on illegal immigration is recommending no new legislative action other than urging the federal government to do more.
The state House committee on Thursday urged the federal government to better enforce border security everywhere, and for Washington to delegate more authority for states to enforce immigration laws. The committee's co-chairman then met with Latino advocates to discuss their proposal for state drivers licenses to illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years and who have clean criminal records.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates North Carolina ranks ninth in population among the states with what it calls 325,000 unauthorized immigrants, defined as foreign-born citizens of other countries who aren't legal immigrants.
Registered sex offender nabbed for going to church
Friday, December 7, 2012
(AP) — Authorities in Lincoln County say a registered sex offender has been arrested for attending church.
The Charlotte Observer reports that 38-year-old James Dwight Bandy of Newton was arrested this week on charges of being a sex offender at or near child premises.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said detectives were contacted earlier this month by Catawba County sheriff's deputies who said Bandy had been instructed not to be within 300 feet of children's classes.
Instead, investigators said Bandy attended worship services and also went to Sunday school class on successive Sundays at a Lincolnton church.
Deputies say that put Bandy within 300 feet of the church's daycare and children's Sunday school classes. He was arrested Wednesday and released on $5,000 bond. It's not known if Bandy has an attorney.
Police say NC infant was punched in face by father
Thursday, December 6, 2012
(AP) — Police say a 2-week-old infant died after his father punched him for fussing while he was playing video games.
High Point police have charged 20-year-old Brian Jack Frazier with first-degree murder, and 20-year-old Stefany Renee Ash is charged with accessory after the fact of first degree murder. Police say the two tried to hide the circumstances of the baby's death.
Frazier is being held without bond, while Ash is being held in lieu of a $1 million bond.
Charges were filed after the body of 2-week-old Khan Frazier was found at a High Point home on Nov. 27.
The father and mother tried to cover up the circumstances about their baby's death, authorities report.
Frazier and Ash appeared in court last week. No trial date has been set.
(AP) — A proposal to eliminate North Carolina's large unemployment benefit debt would require businesses to pay higher taxes and reduce the maximum payments that future jobless workers could receive.
The proposal released Wednesday in a General Assembly study committee is the result of negotiations between legislative leaders, business groups and others.
The plan would eliminate by 2015 nearly $2.5 billion the state owes the federal government because business tax contributions have not kept up with jobless claims. Without the proposed changes, it would take three years longer.
The maximum weekly benefit for workers would fall from $525 a week to $350. The maximum number of benefit weeks would drop from 26 weeks to 20. The proposal would raise slightly the minimum and maximum unemployment tax rates businesses must pay.
(AP) — Gov. Beverly Perdue has officially given herself slack in the final weeks of her administration about abiding by rules she created for making appointments to North Carolina's appeals courts and to Superior Court.
Perdue signed an executive order Wednesday modifying her 2011 order in which she agreed she would appoint judges among candidates offered to her by a Judicial Nominating Commission she formed.
Perdue wrote Wednesday there's not enough time to go through the commission's formal candidate-vetting process and to fully consider those candidates' qualifications before she leaves office in early January. Now she plans to simply consult with individual commission members about specific candidates before making her appointments.
Atop her list of vacancies will be the one opened on Dec. 17 when Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson retires.
SEC: Inside merger info passed from NC netted $11M
Thursday, December 6, 2012
(AP) — Federal regulators say an investment banker at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte and a longtime friend passed on insider tips on pending company mergers to friends or family members in five states, racking up more than $11 million in illicit profits.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday said John W. Femenia misused his position to trade in information about four pending mergers involving firm clients before the deals were announced.
Femenia did not return a call seeking comment. He was based in Wells Fargo's Charlotte office in 2010 and 2011 when the SEC said he passed along insider information on three mergers before moving to New York.
The SEC says people who acted on the insider information lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, California and New York.
(AP) — An appeals court says couples must establish common-law marriages in other states before moving to North Carolina to be treated as spouses in divorce proceedings.
The ruling Tuesday by the Court of Appeals means if Hulya Garrett of Iredell County wants to appeal, the state Supreme Court must consider whether living with boyfriend Charles Burris in Texas gave her rights to alimony, marital property, and divorce.
The pair never married in eight years together. Texas recognizes a couple as married if they cohabitate, tell others they're married, and agree to be married. North Carolina does not have common law marriage.
Judge Cheri Beasley dissented from the two other judges, saying Garrett moved in with Burris after he said they would be as good as married under Texas law.
(AP) — The warden at a North Carolina prison where inmates said they were forced to rub hot sauce on their genitals has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said Tuesday that Sampson Correctional Institution administrator Lafayette Hall has been put on paid leave while the State Bureau of Investigation investigates what happened at the Clinton facility. A second employee also has been reassigned.
Six inmates allege correctional officers forced them to perform numerous humiliating acts, including gulping hot sauce and slathering it on themselves, resulting in painful blisters. The male inmates also reported being forced to simulate sex acts for the entertainment of guards, as well as to capture and kiss wild snakes while working on a road crew.
NC Forest Service warns against burning yard waste
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
(AP) — The N.C. Forest Service is telling residents to avoid burning yard waste and other debris until there's some significant rainfall.
Humidity levels across the state are low, and projected increases in moisture may not be enough to prevent debris from igniting if an ember lands in it.
Forest Service statistics show there have been more than 600 wildfires across North Carolina in November, and debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in the state.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says people who determine that burning debris is necessary should contact their county forest ranger. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to maximize the safety of people, property and the forest.
(AP) — Prison officials in North Carolina are calling for a criminal investigation after six inmates alleged correctional officers forced them to rub habanero hot sauce on their genitals, resulting in painful blisters.
N.C. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said Monday that officials had asked the State Bureau of Investigation to review conduct at Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton. She said a staff member at the prison has been reassigned and another is on leave after an internal investigation, the findings of which are being kept confidential.
The probe was initiated after inmates complained guards had forced them to perform numerous humiliating acts, including gulping hot sauce and slathering it on themselves. The inmates also reported being forced to capture and kiss wild snakes while working on a road crew.
NC father, son win $1 million in Powerball drawing
Friday, November 30, 2012
(AP) — A Kinston farmer and his son have come forward to claim their $1 million prize from the record Powerball jackpot.
The North Carolina Education Lottery said Thursday that Leslie Rouse decided to buy tickets because the jackpot reached $587.5 million. Christopher Rouse checked the numbers online, then called his father to tell him they'd won.
After taxes, the Rouses each received a check for $340,000.
Two more tickets worth $1 million were sold in Charlotte and Burlington after matching all five white balls but not the Powerball in the drawing.
The North Carolina Education Lottery reported that sales of Powerball tickets during the 16 drawings leading to the jackpot resulted in $44.3 million in sales. Of that, an estimated $16.8 million will go to state education programs.
(AP) — Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will step down as head of the largest U.S. electric utility as part of a settlement with the North Carolina utilities regulator.
The resignation ends an investigation into the company's takeover of in-state rival Progress Energy.
Hours after the merger was completed July 2, Duke Energy's board ousted the CEO it promised to keep throughout the 18-month process of combining the two Fortune 500 energy companies headquartered in North Carolina.
The state regulator and Attorney General Roy Cooper launched investigations into the quick change, demanding internal Duke documents and communications.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission said Thursday that its consumer-protection division and Duke reached a deal ending the probe into whether the company misled the regulator ahead of approving the merger.
(AP) — State Rep. Larry Womble says he's glad that evidence helped clear him of charges stemming from a car crash in which a motorist was killed.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Womble made his first public appearance since the N.C. Attorney General's Office dismissed a charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Additional evidence showed that Carmichael's car crossed the centerline on Dec. 2, 2011, and collided with Womble's car. Carmichael's blood-alcohol level was 0.29, more than three times the legal limit.
Womble said nearly every bone in his body was broken and he can no longer see out of his left eye, but his doctors say he is progressing well.
While not ruling out another run for public office, Womble said his focus right now is on his recovery.
(AP) — The only black woman to ever serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court says she's leaving next month.
Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson announced Wednesday her decision to retire from the state's highest court Dec. 17. Timmons-Goodson has been on the Supreme Court since 2006. She previously served on the Court of Appeals and was a District Court judge.
The 58-year-old Timmons-Goodson did not give a specific reason for leaving, saying only "there is a time and season for all things."
Her departure gives outgoing Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue the chance to pick her successor before leaving office in January.
Timmons-Goodson is one of three registered Democrats on the seven-member court. The court is officially nonpartisan.
The term of Timmons-Goodson's successor would expire at the end of 2014.
Ellmers wants historic NC building named for Helms
Thursday, November 29, 2012
(AP) — North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers has filed a resolution to name an historic federal building in downtown Raleigh after the late conservative icon Jesse Helms.
Ellmers said Wednesday she has introduced a measure that would rename the Century Post Office the "Jesse Helms Federal Building and United States Courthouse."
Helms was a five-term Republican U.S. senator from Raleigh who died in 2008 at age 86.
The National Park Service says the building was the first federal government project in the South after the Civil War. Another federal building — now named after the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Terry Sanford — opened in 1970.
Ellmers' office quoted Helms' wife, Dot, saying her husband's Raleigh office was in the Century Post Office building for most of his Senate career.
(AP) — The Atlantic Coast Conference has announced its presidents and chancellors have unanimously voted to add Louisville as the replacement for Maryland.
In a statement Wednesday, league Commissioner John Swofford said the addition of Louisville along with Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the past year has made the league stronger.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich says the ACC was "the perfect fit for us."
Maryland announced last week it would join the Big Ten in 2014.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that ACC leaders also considered Connecticut and Cincinnati before the vote to add Louisville during a conference call Wednesday morning. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the ACC hasn't released details of the expansion discussions.
(AP) — The Veterans Administration and the Army plan to build a rehabilitation clinic in the Fayetteville area. The Fayetteville Observer reported the Fayetteville VA Medical Center and Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center will build the nearly $7 million clinic.
Fayetteville VA spokeswoman Robin DeMark says it's too early to say when the clinic might open. Officials have not yet selected a location.
The clinic will provide physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology.
Soldiers and their families currently obtain those services at facilities such as Womack and several clinics at Fort Bragg. Veterans must seek care through the VA system.
Womack spokeswoman Shannon Lynch says Fort Bragg clinics will continue to provide those services even after the new clinic opens.
The new clinic expects to handle 62,000 visits annually.
(AP) — The North Carolina Railroad Co. is a strange bird. It's a private corporation whose only shareholder is the state of North Carolina. It owns no locomotives but provides freight and passenger service from the big cities to Down East.
Now legislators closely reviewing the railroad company want the state to become more active owners nearly 15 years after the company's last private shareholders were bought out. A bill being floated at the Legislature would require more oversight of the company and demand the state receive direct cash dividends again.
The company was created before the Civil War and today owns 317 miles of rail from Charlotte to Morehead City.
Railroad President Scott Saylor says the cash dividends could delay rail improvements that benefit economic development.
(AP) — The National Weather Service has issued an increased fire danger warning for the Triad area of North Carolina because of a dry air mass and gusty winds.
Forecasters say the warning covers Forsyth, Guilford, Davidson and Randolph counties.
The weather service says a very dry air mass has settled across North Carolina with dew points in the upper teens and low 20s. As temperatures approach 50 degrees, the relative humidity will fall to less than 25 percent.
With the lack of rain, the combination of low relative humidity and wind gusts near 20 mph will increase the danger of fires in the region.
(AP) — Gov.-Elect Pat McCrory will be sworn in as North Carolina's chief executive one week ahead of his official inauguration.
McCrory's transition office announced Tuesday that he will be sworn in on Saturday, Jan. 5, in the Old Senate Chamber. The statement said McCrory is being sworn in early after consulting with Gov, Beverly Perdue and the General Assembly.
The transition office said the early swearing-in will ensure that McCrory's cabinet and leadership team is in place prior to the General Assembly convening on Jan. 9.
Inauguration activities are scheduled for Jan. 12 in Capitol Square, where McCrory will deliver his inaugural address.
In the week leading up to the inauguration, McCrory's office said he will attend official and inaugural activities while holding public open houses across the state.
Reidsville House member to run for speaker pro tem
Friday, November 16, 2012
(AP) — Another Republican says he's running for the No. 2 leadership position in the North Carolina House for the next two years.
Bert Jones of Reidsville announced Thursday he would seek the position of speaker pro tempore. Outgoing Majority Leader Paul Stam of Apex and finance committee leader Julia Howard of Mocksville already have entered the race.
Jones is a dentist about to begin his second House term. He won as an unaffiliated candidate in 2010 but later changed to Republican.
Jones says the competition isn't a sign of divisiveness but proof there are many competent leaders in the chamber.
An expanded House Republican Caucus meets Saturday in Raleigh but isn't expected to vote on its nominee. Unofficial results show GOP candidates won 77 of the 120 seats on Election Day.
(AP) — Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have endorsed a policy which will allow students to live in dorm suites and apartments with roommates of the opposite gender beginning next school year.
The board of trustees unanimously endorsed Thursday "gender-neutral" housing. Supporters of the gender non-specific housing option say the move would help students — specifically gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students - who are being harassed and bullied in traditional on-campus housing.
Students will be able to apply for the option of choosing roommates of either gender in campus suites and apartments. The university already has coed dorms but students of the opposite sex do not share rooms.
Chancellor Holden Thorp said the move is vital to protecting the safety of UNC-Chapel Hill students.
(AP) — An Air Force crash report says four members of a North Carolina Air National Guard plane fighting Western wildfires died last summer when the crew misjudged conditions and flew into a wind burst that slammed them to the ground.
The accident investigation report released Wednesday said a C-130 air tanker fighting a wildfire in the South Dakota Black Hills crashed because the crew made an "inadequate assessment" of conditions and flew into a microburst.
Four of the six crew members from a North Carolina Air National Guard unit flying the plane died July 1. Two crewmen were injured.
A microburst is a narrow wind gust that rushes downward out of a thunderstorm. A plane flying through it at low altitude can quickly lose the lift that keeps it aloft.
(AP) — An audit of the North Carolina Education Lottery shows the agency took in $1.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2012.
The State Auditor's office released its report Tuesday. It said the take for the previous fiscal years marked an increase of $135.6 million over 2011.
The report said the lottery's four cash transfers for the year reached $456.8 million, the largest transfer in the agency's history. For 2011, the cash transfer totaled $446.9 million.
According to the audit, the lottery awarded $1 million or more for the 110th time. It increased the number of retailers by 2.7 percent to 6,787. Also, the release of 49 new instant scratch-off games into the marketplace generated sales of $960 million.
McCrory's win to play big at GOP governors meeting
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
(AP) —Pat McCrory's victory in the North Carolina governor's race last week is likely to help him strike it big at a meeting of current and new GOP chief executives.
McCrory is scheduled to be in Las Vegas starting Wednesday for the Republican Governors Association annual meeting that goes through Friday.
The former Charlotte mayor was the only GOP candidate for chief executive nationally who took over a seat currently held by a Democrat on Election Day. McCrory beat Democrat Walter Dalton by more than 11 percentage points.
Republican candidates failed to flip seats in Montana and New Hampshire, but the GOP now holds 30 governorships, the most for the party since 2000.
McCrory has been appearing on national cable television shows in the days following his victory.
(AP) — Advocates are blaming legislators for a change that means the severely mentally ill in group homes may end up with nowhere to live because of an issue involving Medicaid payments.
Those advocates are holding a rally Wednesday in front of the Legislature to call for action by the governor and lawmakers. They say about 2,000 people with mental disabilities could be on the street Jan. 1 because lawmakers didn't include group homes in legislation that protected residents of adult care homes.
Rep. Nelson Dollar told The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that legislators are willing to consider changing the law to make group homes eligible for Medicaid replacement money. But a month would pass between when the Legislature resumes Jan. 30 and when funding rules change.
(AP) — North Carolina Democrats can't remember being so low in state government after Election Day.
The strings of power that party members nearly always held for more than a century will all be cut now after last week's results.
Republican Pat McCrory's gubernatorial victory broke the Democrats' 20-year winning streak for the Executive Mansion. The GOP expanded majorities in the House and Senate and retained the majority on the Supreme Court.
Democrats also took hits in federal races. North Carolina was the only battleground state where President Barack Obama's campaign lost. And Democrats lost at least three U.S. House seats.
Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker says the party is at a crossroads. He doesn't know if the defeats are just an aberration in a two-party state.
(AP) — Authorities say a fire at Pilot Mountain State Park that's burned 700 acres is more than one-third contained.
State Parks and Recreation spokesman Charlie Peek said Sunday the fire in the Surry County Park is 35 percent contained. About 70 firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze, which began as a prescribed burn.
Peek says the fire has a low intensity and is burning dead wood, leaves and undergrowth with little damage to standing trees. He says that means this blaze is reducing the risk of a catastrophic fire in the future.
State officials closed the park after flames jumped the fire line Thursday.
No one has been injured. Damage to park facilities is limited to fence rails and posts at viewing areas.
(AP) — Investigators in Davidson County are trying to find $41,000 missing from an armored truck following a wreck on U.S. 52.
The Dispatch of Lexington reports that Brinks filed a report with the sheriff's office Tuesday night that said the money was missing from the truck. It was originally reported that all the money had been recovered.
The N.C. Highway Patrol said another car was changing lanes Monday night and hit the truck, sending it off the road and into an embankment. The truck overturned and spilled the money.
The two Brinks employees were taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. A hospital spokeswoman said 32-year-old Michael Gerringer of Winston-Salem is in serious condition, and 23-year-old John Baldwin of Kernersville is in good condition.
(AP) — A state elections official says voter turnout in North Carolina's election won't reach 2008 record levels, but it'll get pretty close.
Elections numbers Wednesday afternoon showed 4.5 million ballots had been cast for a voter turnout so far of 67.7 percent based on more than 6.6 million registered voters in the state.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett said he still expected turnout to edge toward 69 percent after mail-in absentee ballots are collected through Friday and provisional ballots are reviewed.
Turnout for the 2008 general election reached more than 69.5 percent — the highest in recent North Carolina political history.
(AP) — Federal prosecutors have rested their case against a North Carolina man accused of plotting to have government witnesses at his trial on terror charges beheaded.
WRAL-TV reported that 28-year-old Hysen Sherifi chose not to present any evidence after prosecutors rested their case Wednesday. Sherifi is representing himself.
Sherifi is serving 45 years in prison after he was convicted last year in a terror plot that aimed to kill U.S. troops.
On Wednesday, an FBI agent played audio that the agent said was of Sherifi insisting that the targets be beheaded, not just shot. Also testifying was Sherifi's brother, Shkumbin Sherifi. He and a friend pleaded guilty last week to federal charges in the case.
Hysen Sherifi has said that he was arrested because of his Muslim faith.
(AP) — Voters in two Western states are high on pot. Ballot measures to legalize the illegal weed have been approved in Colorado and Washington state. But Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper cautions the pot backers not to get too excited. The Democrat opposed the measure and notes marijuana still remains illegal under federal law. He says "don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly." Voters in Oregon are a little out of joint over the prospect of legal pot. They rejected a measure that called for regulating marijuana in a way similar to booze.
(AP) — Pat McCrory will be the first Republican governor in North Carolina in 20 years.
Unofficial results show McCrory won the governor's race on Tuesday over Democrat Walter Dalton.
McCrory is the former Charlotte mayor who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Beverly Perdue in 2008. Perdue didn't seek re-election this year, setting the stage for McCrory. McCrory benefited from a repeat run for governor and a sizeable cash advantage over Dalton.
Jim Martin was the last Republican governor, leaving office in 1993. McCrory will take the oath of office in January.
(AP) — Mitt Romney has turned North Carolina back to the Republicans.
Romney won the state and its 15 electoral votes Tuesday, four years after President Barack Obama picked up a surprise win for the Democrats by 14,000 votes. The GOP had won every other presidential race in the state since 1980.
Obama tried hard to keep the state for the Democrats. He visited more than a dozen times, the last trip in September when the Democrats nominated him again at their national convention in Charlotte.
But Republicans made significant gains in the 2010 midterm elections and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory got 55 percent of the vote Tuesday to be the first Republican to win the governor's race in 20 years.
AP) — A North Carolina man who pleaded guilty conspiracy to distribute counterfeit and mislabeled prescription drugs will serve a prison stretch for his crimes.
A federal judge in Houston sentenced Shane Lance on Monday to 10 months in a federal prison and five months of home confinement. U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore also ordered the 41-year-old Archdale, N.C., man to reimburse the one maker of the genuine drugs $5,100 in investigative costs.
Court documents show Lance admitted receiving and distributing Chinese-made knockoffs of the male enhancement drugs Viagra and Cialis. Federal agents placed orders with a Chinese-based website for the cut-rate counterfeits and received shipments from a High Point, N.C., address. Surveillance video from a North Carolina post office showed a man later identified as Lance mailing the packages.
(AP) — A North Carolina man spending 45 years in prison for a homegrown terrorist plot read Quranic verses to jurors and scolded the federal judge and prosecutors at his trial on charges he plotted to have government witnesses beheaded.
The case against 28-year-old Hysen Sherifi began Monday in Raleigh with the defendant acting as his own attorney.
Sherifi was one of six Raleigh-area Muslims convicted last year for plotting to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Va., and overseas targets.
A prosecutor said in opening arguments Sherifi tried to hire a hit man to behead government witnesses who testified against him in his terror trial. His brother and a 47-year-old former special education teacher pleaded guilty last week.
Sherifi read religious verses to jurors and lectured on their meaning.
(AP) — The major party candidates for governor trolled for support in eastern North Carolina on the final day of early voting in two very different ways.
While Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton visited an early-voting site Saturday morning in Greenville, Republican Pat McCrory was across town attending an East Carolina University football game tailgate party.
The two methods reflected the perception of where the race stood on the campaign's final weekend. The former Charlotte mayor leads in polls while Dalton is seeking to boost early-vote turnout that appears to benefit Democrats.
The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney led early-vote activity Saturday with thousands of volunteers working polls and making personal contacts with voters.
Nearly 2.4 million people had already voted early in person by Saturday morning.
(AP) — A Korean War soldier who went missing 62 years ago has been buried with full military honors in a North Carolina veterans cemetery after his remains were finally identified.
The Fatyetteville Observer reports Saturday that Army Pfc. James Curtis Mullins was buried in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake.
Mullins was 18 when he headed for South Korea in June 1950. He went missing a month later, when his unit was overrun. Remains of nine U.S. soldiers were recovered from the battlefield. Only one could not be identified. All were buried in South Korea.
The bodies were exhumed a year later. Still unidentifiable, Mullins' remains were reburied in Hawaii. They were exhumed again this year and identified through radiography.
His brother Clayton Mills says Friday's service brought closure.
(AP) — Gov. Bev Perdue has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund to help residents and businesses along the East Coast recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Perdue says the new NC Helping Neighbors Fund will support recovery efforts in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. Assistance will go to communities the federal government has declared disaster areas.
Perdue says 100 percent of donations will go to states hit by the hurricane.
The fund is managed by Perdue's office, with the United Way of North Carolina.
Resources from North Carolina assisting in the recovery include church volunteers, utility employees, National Guard service members and aircraft, fire departments' swift-water rescue teams, and American Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles.
(AP) — The state medical examiner's office has identified the body of a Charlotte woman who was last seen at her home in 1975.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that DNA and dental records confirmed that the body was that of Priscilla Ann Blevins. Two weeks ago, Cathy Blevins Howe of Clemmons learned that the body was her sister's.
Blevins was last seen by her roommate at their home on July 7, 1975. Ten years later, a woman's body was found off Interstate 40 in Haywood County and taken to the medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill.
In 2009, Howe provided her DNA to investigators, which combined with dental records confirmed that it was Blevins whose body was found in Haywood County.
(AP) — The number of people casting ballots at early-voting places has now exceeded 2 million in North Carolina.
The State Board of Elections reported late Thursday afternoon that in-person early-voting had surpassed the mark. More than 2.2 million votes have been cast when traditional absentee ballots and those living or stationed overseas are added.
In 2008, more than 2.4 million people voted early in person and 2.6 million when all non-Election Day voting was counted — both records.
In-person early voting began Oct. 18 and ends Saturday afternoon. Mail-in absentee ballots must be turned in to local elections boards by Monday or postmarked by Tuesday.
. (AP) — North Carolina's health director says a third person is hospitalized for fungal meningitis apparently contracted from a tainted steroid injection.
State Health Director Laura Gerald said Wednesday that the unidentified patient was being monitored after having received a spinal steroid injection with one of the contaminated lots produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says 313 people have received a steroid injection with the tainted drugs. The department says two people are being treated for fungal meningitis.
A 77-year-old Denton woman died on Oct. 19 from an injection she received in late August.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 377 people in 19 states have been stricken with meningitis, and there have been 29 deaths.
EPA grants 16 states clean gas waivers after Sandy
Thursday, November 1, 2012
(AP) — The Obama administration is temporarily waiving some Clean Air Act requirements in 16 states and the District of Columbia to reduce fuel disruptions from Superstorm Sandy.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says in a letter to governors that extreme circumstances related to Sandy will prevent enough gasoline from reaching consumers.
The waiver lets conventional gasoline be sold instead of cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A blend of reformulated and regular gasoline will be allowed in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
The waivers last through Nov. 20.
The EPA also says New Jersey residents can use heating oil in emergency generators and pumps if cleaner diesel is unavailable.
(AP) — Authorities in Jacksonville accuse a woman of pouring scalding hot water on her 9-month-old daughter.
The Onslow County Sheriff's Office says 33-year-old Michelle Julia Woodhouse-Deboyes of Jacksonville is charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and mental emotional injury.
A statement from the sheriff's office said Woodhouse-Deboyes was angered by the baby's crying. Investigators say she filled a coffee mug with boiling water and poured it on the infant, then turned the baby over and held her in the hot water puddled on the floor,
The baby is being treated at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill for second-degree burns over 12 percent of her body.
Authorities say Woodhouse-Deboyes has been released on a $200,000 unsecured bond. It's not known if she has an attorney.
NC officials troubled by raucous election activity
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
(AP) — North Carolina election officials are concerned about raucous campaigning around early voting sites and people purposefully misrepresenting voting laws to reduce turnout.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett says his office has received many reports of "aggressive electioneering" at in-person voting sites during early voting that ends Saturday.
Bartlett says candidate and party activists have been entering no-campaign zones to work potential voters and used profanities against their opponents. He told county election officials this kind of aggressive campaigning can't be tolerated.
There also have been reports of voters being told they can vote by phone or they can't vote if they have outstanding traffic tickets.
Bartlett said he's never heard more complaints, misinformation and what he calls voter suppression or intimidation activities during his tenure.
(AP) — North Carolina's price gouging law is currently in effect because of the recent state of emergency declarations due to Hurricane Sandy.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has notified businesses and consumers of the activation.
Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency for 40 counties east of Interstate 95. On Monday she issued another state of emergency for 24 counties in western North Carolina.
Price gouging, the practice of charging too much in times of crisis, is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the governor.
The law also applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
(AP) — The Coast Guard continues searching the Atlantic 90 miles off the North Carolina coast for the captain of the HMS Bounty, which sank during Hurricane Sandy.
Coast Guard Capt. Joe Kelly said Tuesday that 63-year-old Robin Walbridge from St. Petersburg, Fla., could still be alive in the Gulf Stream waters more than a day after the replica 18th-century sailing vessel sank in high winds and waves. The Coast Guard says the ocean temperature in the search area is nearly 80 degrees.
Kelly says Wallbridge went overboard early Monday when the ship rolled as the deck slid below 18-foot waves.
The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew members by helicopter Monday. Hours later they found 42-year-old Claudene Christian, who was later declared dead.
(AP) — Gov. Beverly Perdue has declared a state of emergency for western North Carolina due to the threat of a winter storm that's expected to dump up to a foot of snow on the region thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
Perdue issued the proclamation Monday afternoon for 24 counties, days after she issued a similar proclamation for 40 counties in eastern North Carolina because of Sandy's winds and rain. The storm has led to flooding along the coast, shutting down N.C. Highway 12, the sole link between the southern Outer Banks and the mainland.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather warning for the northern half of the North Carolina mountains. Up to a foot of snow is possible in the higher elevations with wind gusts of up to 65 mph.
(AP) — A former inmate at a federal prison in North Carolina is suing the government over delays in treatment he says cost him part of his genitalia.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Sunday that 48-year-old Greg Baker of Hamilton, Ohio, says delays in examining and testing a lesion on his penis went on for months. When it was finally found to be cancerous, most of Baker's penis had to be amputated.
The government says it can't be held liable because it had contracted with a company to handle health care for inmates at the Federal Correctional Complex at Butner.
Federal employees provide primary medical care, but the prison system contracted with a company called MDI to staff clinics with doctors and to administer care performed outside the prison.
(AP) — North Carolina utilities regulators are giving Duke Energy another week to produce internal emails and other documents involving its merger with Progress Energy which the company wrongly claimed it could keep secret.
The state Utilities Commission on Thursday gave the country's largest electric company until Nov. 5 to produce more than 4,000 pages of the documents for public disclosure. The original deadline was going to be Monday.
Utilities regulators and North Carolina's attorney general are investigating Duke Energy's surprise ouster of the Progress Energy CEO, who was supposed to take over the combined company.
Duke Energy was forced to turn over documents and marked 5,000 pages as confidential because they contained trade secrets. The commission said only 13 percent of the documents contained trade secrets.
(AP) — Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy could lash the North Carolina coast with up to five inches of rain and winds of 30 to 50 mph as it tracks north along the U.S. coast.
The National Weather Service office in Newport said Thursday the threat to eastern North Carolina this weekend could be limited if predictions hold and the storm stays offshore. A possible turn west could brush the Outer Banks.
The main flooding threat will be on the southern end of the Pamlico Sound and east facing beaches along the Outer Banks on Sunday.
National Weather Service senior forecaster Brian Cullen says some areas could see moderate coastal flooding of up to four feet, spelling trouble for any waterside homes not raised onto stilts.
RALEIGH — Until recently, no one in North Carolina, home to so many tobacco companies, could have imagined a statewide smoking ban in public buildings.
And yet it’s possible that federal environmental regulators could target another signature Tar Heel State tradition: the pig pickin’.
Several cities in California, Colorado, and other states have banned outdoor grilling — particularly where wood or charcoal is involved — at parks and other public areas and at events including weekend festivals. And if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightens its regulations covering coarse particulate matter in 2011, mobile smokers could be endangered.
Outdoor barbecues would not be the main target of the new federal regulations. Instead, the rules seek to limit farm and rural dust, placing the nation’s farmers, ranchers, livestock producers, and miners on notice. Some activists are even suggesting all unpaved roads be paved as a way to curb dust creation.
The EPA began regulating particulate matter in 1971 to battle soot, but over the years has expanded those regulations to include a host of other particles. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA conducts a review of the particulate matter (PM) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) every 5 years to determine if the standards need to be toughened. Congress determined that NAAQS standards must be health-based, meaning scientific studies must show a pollutant causes adverse health effects for it to be regulated.
Election ahead, NC insurance head defers rate rise
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
(AP) — Two weeks before an election deciding whether he keeps his job, North Carolina's insurance commissioner is telling companies they'll have to prove they should get to increase premiums by an average of nearly 18 percent.
The move by Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin on Tuesday at least postpones the rate increase insurers had wanted to take effect on June 1. Goodwin says he'll hold a hearing June 3.
The Democrat seeking re-election to a second four-year term says the proposed rates appear excessive.
The insurance companies are represented by the North Carolina Rate Bureau. The group's director and attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.
The last homeowner's insurance rate increase was in 2008, before Goodwin took office. Insurance companies sought nearly 20 percent statewide and got 4 percent.
(AP) — State election officials are asking their county counterparts to find ways to ease long lines at North Carolina's early voting stations.
State elections executive director Gary Bartlett sent a memo Tuesday to directors in all 100 counties urging them to consider changes that will make voting occur more efficiently and alleviate waits as long as two hours at some locations.
More than 600,000 people had voted statewide as of Monday and the total is likely to exceed 2 million before in-person early voting ends Nov. 3.
Bartlett's memo said county boards should consider extending early voting times and adding weekend days. Such decisions would require unanimous approval by a local board.
Bartlett also said counties should consider redistributing voting booths and handing out sample ballots to people in line.
(AP) — A former billion-dollar fundraiser at North Carolina's flagship public university says he's repaid the school more than $16,000 in questioned travel expenses with a paramour that cost him his job.
Matt Kupec said in a statement Tuesday that the mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough didn't know he wasn't reimbursing their travel costs.
Kupec and Tami Hansbrough last month resigned their highly paid fundraising jobs after questions about spending on trips they took, including some to watch Hansbrough's younger son Ben play basketball for Notre Dame in 2011.
Kupec said a new university audit found he was responsible for travel and other expenses worth $16,580. The UNC-Chapel Hill audit puts Kupec's debt at nearly $400 higher, but says he's paid it all.
Goat prank keeps NC football field closed another week
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
(AP) — The football field at a Cleveland County high school will be off limits for at least another week after goats caused a mess Friday in a prank that raised sanitation concerns.
The Shelby Star reports (http://bit.ly/SjBQev ) that Wednesday's soccer game and Thursday's junior varsity football game have both been moved to Shelby High School.
Burns Principal Aaron Allen expects the football field to be ready by the end of next week, when it's possible the Bulldogs would host a home playoff game.
About a dozen goats were released in the stadium last week, forcing a football game against Rutherfordton-Spindale Central to be moved as a health precuation due to more than 100 recent E. coli cases linked to animals at the Cleveland County Fair.
(AP) — Motorists on Interstate 85 in North Carolina were forced to detour, and homes and a school were evacuated after a tractor-trailer carrying explosives overturned.
The North Carolina Transportation Department says the Monday morning crash in Archdale closed I-85 in both directions, but all lanes were reopened Monday evening.
A Randolph County Schools spokeswoman said nearby Trindale Elementary School was evacuated as a precaution just as the school day started.
The DOT says the truck flipped on its side around 7 a.m. The truck was carrying an ammonium nitrate slurry and blasting caps. Authorities say the explosives inside the truck were "stable" and all ignition sources removed.
The truck driver was taken to High Point Regional Hospital, then flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
(AP) — Members of a group opposed to a newly legal form of energy exploration in North Carolina shackled themselves to the doors of a state environment building before leaving peacefully with no arrests.
Seven people associated with Croatan Earth First linked themselves together Monday morning to block the front doors to the new headquarters of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Raleigh. Two of them also put bike locks through door handles and around their necks.
A few dozen protesters held banners and chanted their opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The Legislature agreed to allow fracking this year but it can't occur until regulations are developed.
State Capitol Police Acting Chief Tony Asion said the protesters unchained themselves shortly after noon after talking to the media.
According to reports, the Republican senator that represented District 30 in the North Carolina senate, died overnight following complications resulting from surgery on his back and hip a week ago Sunday.
The source, an official with the county’s Republican party, asked to remain anonymous, but confirmed reports of East’s death.
“He never recovered from the surgery,” they said. “Sometime late during the night or early this morning, a blood clot broke loose and went straight to his brain.”
According to the source, no arrangements have been made at this time, but the family will be meeting later to plan funeral services.
“It’s just terrible,” the source said. “It’s very, very sad.”
East was facing a challenge for the 30th District seat in November’s election from Democrat Ric Marshall. He represented Surry, Alleghany Stokes and Yadkin counties in the Senate.
(AP) — Officials say the North Carolina State Fair was successful, even though attendance probably came up short of the 1 million mark.
State Agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler said Sunday night he's confident that attendance at the 2012 fair will have been the third largest in history.
Officials estimate the fair drew about 965,000 during its 11-day run. Final figures were expected Monday.
Last year just over 1 million people attended the fair. In 2010, attendance nearly reached 1.1 million.
Troxler says officials changed access to some of the animals this year. That came after two dozen people got sick from an E. coli outbreak last year. Hand-washing stations got better lighting and larger signs. Some stations explained how to wash hands.
(AP) — A North Carolina Army National Guard unit based in Greensboro is getting ready to head to Egypt for a yearlong deployment.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports a farewell ceremony for Battery C was held over the weekend.
Eighty-four soldiers in the unit will take part in the deployment. The battery will train at Camp Atterbury, Ind., until early December. It then heads to Egypt until September.
The Greensboro unit joins others from High Point, Winston-Salem, Reidsville and Louisburg as part of the Army National Guard's 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment. They will monitor compliance with the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.
Col. Jim Ernst told the soldiers they have the easy part. Ernst says deployments are harder on the families left behind.
(AP) — President Barack Obama's campaign says Mitt Romney's team is making a mistake shifting money and workers out of North Carolina, where the two candidates have been competing hard for months.
The Romney campaign announced Thursday it's moving resources and key senior staff to other states, including chief North Carolina spokesman Robert Reid. A Romney campaign official says it's becoming more confident of a North Carolina win next month.
North Carolina Obama campaign spokesman Cameron French says it remains fully committed to North Carolina and Romney is signaling he's taking North Carolina votes for granted. Obama won the state in 2008 by about 14,000 votes — the first time a Democrat won since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
In-person early voting began Thursday in North Carolina, with both sides holding several events.
NC jobless rate down after previous month's uptick
Friday, October 19, 2012
(AP) — North Carolina's unemployment rate decreased a fraction in September to 9.6 percent, dipping back after a similar rise the previous month.
The state Commerce Department released the data Friday, the last look before Election Day into the state's unemployment rate's direction.
The number of people employed increased by nearly 30,000 in September to 4.2 million. About 62,000 more are drawing paychecks than this time last year when the state unemployment rate was 10.7 percent.
The number of people unemployed fell by 3,500 to less than 450,000.
(AP) — Officials say about 150,000 North Carolinians cast their ballots on the first day of early voting.
Election officials say the number of ballots cast Thursday surpassed the first day of voting four years ago. Officials say about 117,000 people cast their ballots on the first day of early voting in 2008.
Officials say as many as 70 percent of voters might cast their ballots in North Carolina before the Nov. 6 election day. Early voting ends Nov. 3.
North Carolina is one of eight swing states that could decide the outcome of the presidential election.
President Obama won North Carolina four years ago, the first Democrat to carry the state in 32 years. He also received more of the early votes than Republican John McCain.
NC health officials: 61 cases of E. coil from fair
Thursday, October 18, 2012
(AP) — Health officials in North Carolina say the number of E. coli cases linked to the Cleveland County Fair has climbed to 61.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that 38 children and 23 adults have been affected by the outbreak. Eleven people have been hospitalized, and officials said there are three cases from South Carolina.
A 2-year-old died of complications from the bacterial illness.
The nine-day fair ended Oct. 7. Health officials say symptoms of E. coli infection could come up to 10 days after exposure and can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Officials haven't yet determined the source of the outbreak.
Dem convention used corporate cash, despite pledge
Thursday, October 18, 2012
(AP) — Last month's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte relied on at least $5 million in corporate donations, despite repeated pledges by top party officials to only use money raised from small, individual donors.
Reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission show the convention's host committee raised $24 million from individual donors, well short of its $36.7 million fundraising goal.
To help make up for the shortfall, committee officials spent $5 million from corporate donors to rent the basketball arena used to hold the convention. They spent nearly $8 million more from a line of credit provided by Duke Energy, the nation's largest electricity provider.
Top Democrats, including party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had pledged prior to the 2012 convention not to use money from corporations, lobbyists or political action committees.
Early voting in 2012 could exceed '08 totals in NC
Thursday, October 18, 2012
(AP) — The campaigns of President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and their parties' slates of candidates are nearing high gear as in-person early voting begins in all of North Carolina's 100 counties
Voters are able to cast absentee ballots at more than 350 early-vote locations in all 100 counties starting Thursday morning and almost daily through Nov. 3. People also can register to vote and cast ballots during the same period. Traditional mail-in absentee balloting has been going for more than a month.
More than 2.4 million cast in-person early votes in 2008, or 55 percent of all ballots cast. Many attribute the Obama campaign's emphasis on the early vote four years ago in part to his 14,000-vote win over Republican John McCain. GOP leaders say they aren't forgetting early voting, either.
(AP) — Democrat Walter Dalton is running out of time to dismantle Republican Pat McCrory's perceived front-runner status on the eve of early voting in the North Carolina governor's race.
Dalton is the sitting lieutenant governor and has been working to discredit McCrory's self-characterization as an outsider who will work to fix what he calls the state's broken government and economy.
Dalton acknowledges he has a gap to breach but says there is still time to change minds. He says people will choose him once they hear of his detailed plans to generate jobs and oppose Republican policies in the Legislature.
As the former mayor of Charlotte, McCrory has held a campaign-fundraising advantage that's allowed him to appear on TV more frequently.
(AP) — A North Carolina appeals court has upheld the firing of a state trooper for having extramarital sex in patrol cars and a patrol office.
The three-judge Court of Appeals panel agreed Tuesday with a Wake County trial judge's decision to sustain the State Personnel Commission's decision to fire Monty Poarch. That followed a 2007 ruling by an administrative judge that Poarch should be reinstated because other troopers remained on the force despite worse behavior.
The appeals panel rejected arguments that the trial judge was wrong in ruling there was just cause to dismiss Poarch.
An investigation began when a woman accused Poarch in 2002 of stopping her because she was ending their affair.
The court did approve two months' pay for the time between Poarch's pre-dismissal conference and official termination.
(AP) — North Carolina's highest court will soon decide whether the state can outlaw video sweepstakes parlors as gambling halls, or whether the video screens give the owners constitutional free-speech rights.
The state Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in two cases in which amusement machine companies, a gaming software developer, and firms that market long-distance phone and Internet services seek to overturn a 2010 law banning video sweepstakes machines as a form of gambling.
The sweepstakes machines have cropped up since the state outlawed video poker machines outside the western North Carolina Cherokee Indian reservation in 2007. Patrons buy Internet or phone time that gives them the opportunity to uncover potential cash and prizes with mouse clicks on a computer screen.
(AP) — The number of people stricken by an outbreak of E. coli bacteria has jumped to 38 visitors to a county fair in North Carolina. One child is dead.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that 22 children and 16 adults who attended the Cleveland County Fair have been sickened. Two are from South Carolina.
Besides the Gaston County child who died last week, seven victims have needed hospital treatment. Gaston County Health Director Chris Dobbins said three people are on dialysis and four developed a type of kidney failure.
The nine-day Cleveland County Fair ended Oct. 7. Health officials say symptoms of E. coli infection could come up to 10 days after exposure and can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting.
(AP) — Two North Carolina men face rape and attempted murder charges after a 17-year-old girl was pulled alive from a river with gunshot wounds to her face, abdomen and hand.
Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said Monday the woman was abducted, taken to a spot along the Cape Fear River, sexually assaulted, shot three times and left for dead. Rollins says she knew one of the suspects through her family.
Deputies charged 21-year-old Jose Trinidad Soto Sanchez and 28-year-old Jose Juan Alvarez charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and attempted murder. They share the same Spring Lake address.
A sheriff's department official did not return a call to The Associated Press and it's not known if the men had attorneys. Bond for both was set at $1 million.
(AP) — Barbara Howe has been running a lot — both literally and for North Carolina political office.
Howe is in her fourth bid for North Carolina statewide office as this year's Libertarian Party nominee for governor.
The Oxford resident has spread the word of her campaign by jogging in 5-kilometer increments through more than 90 of the state's 100 counties. Howe says she meets people in the community. It gives her a chance to share her party's philosophy of a limited government that stays out of people's business.
Howe is a longshot to defeat both Democratic nominee Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory. Howe needs to get at least 2 percent of the vote so that the party won't have to collect signatures to get on the ballot in 2016.
(AP) — Elon University's Student Government Association has voted to get rid of a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus because the restaurant chain's president is against gay marriage.
The Times-News of Burlington reports the association voted 35-11 to ask its food vendor, Aramark, to find another restaurant to take its place.
The university says the ultimate decision on whether the restaurant is allowed to stay on campus will be made by senior administrators at the private college and Elon's president.
Elon wouldn't be the first North Carolina school to cut ties with Chick-fil-A. Davidson College and Duke University let the restaurant go not long after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said the United States was inviting God's judgment when its people supported marriage outside the traditional, biblical definition.
(AP) — A funeral will be held for a member of the North Carolina National Guard killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV of Leland is scheduled to be buried Friday at the Wilmington National Cemetery. The internment will follow a service at the city's First Baptist Church.
The 25-year-old soldier was killed Oct. 1 with two other members of the Winterville-based 514th Military Police Company when a Taliban suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol in Khost, Afghanistan.
Butler joined the Guard in 2007 and was on his first combat deployment.
A funeral service for Staff Sgt. Donna R. Johnson of Raeford is scheduled for Saturday. Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison of Browns Summit was buried Thursday.
(AP) — A conservative activist from Forsyth County is joining the North Carolina Legislature for the last 2½ months of the year.
The office of House Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell said Joyce Krawiec of Kernersville was appointed Wednesday by Gov. Beverly Perdue following her nomination last week by Republicans in the area represented by the late Rep. Larry Brown. Brown died in August at age 69.
Krawiec works with the organization called FreedomWorks. She'll be sworn in Monday and serve the remainder of Brown's term, which expires at year's end. The Legislature isn't scheduled to meet again until January.
Another Republican is on the November ballot seeking to serve in Brown's seat for the next two years.
Two guards at a private prison in North Carolina have been charged with accepting bribes to smuggle in cellphones and cigarettes.
Rhonda Boyd and Raye Lynn Holley worked as correctional officers at Rivers Correctional Institution, a 1,450-bed prison in Winton, N.C.
According to a federal criminal indictment made public Wednesday, Boyd is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and acceptance of a bribe, while Holley is charged with accepting a bribe. The indictment alleges that the two had been smuggling contraband into the prison since early 2011.
Rivers is a private prison owned by The GEO Group, Inc., a Florida-based company that contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house federal inmates and detainees. Many of the prisoners housed at the facility are from the District of Columbia.
(AP) — The body of a North Carolina National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan has been returned to Greensboro.
The News & Record of Greensboro reported (http://bit.ly/QQ0hQT) that the body of Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison arrived from Dover Air Force Base on Monday Morning.
Hardison and two other soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber last week.
Members of the National Guard carried the casket to a hearse that took Hardison's body to a funeral home. The hearse was escorted by the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that attends military funerals.
Capt. Rick Scoggins says Hardison will probably be buried Thursday at Salisbury National Cemetery.
Hardison joined the National Guard in 2006. He had deployed to Iraq from 2008 to 2009.
House speaker, 2 senators working in NC for Romney
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
AP) — Republican congressional heavyweights are coming to North Carolina this week to campaign for Mitt Romney.
Romney's campaign said Monday that Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham will attend veteran-themed events Tuesday in Cary and Fayetteville. Graham will hold a similar event Tuesday evening in Wilmington.
House Speaker John Boehner also plans public events for Romney and the GOP ticket Friday afternoon in Charlotte and Saturday morning in Raleigh.
In addition to the surrogates, Romney's campaign says the former Massachusetts governor will hold a campaign event Thursday in Asheville. Details weren't immediately available.
President Barack Obama's re-election campaign also is nearing full steam and last week got help from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former Gov. Jim Hunt.
(AP) — Mitt Romney is coming to battleground North Carolina for the first time in almost two months.
The Republican presidential nominee's campaign said Monday that Romney will visit Asheville on Thursday. Campaign spokesman Robert Reid says he couldn't immediately provide more details.
The former Massachusetts governor last visited North Carolina in mid-August for a Charlotte fundraiser. He'll be visiting the state on the same night as the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.
Romney's campaign and his allies have invested heavily in North Carolina in an attempt to counter President Barack Obama's extensive campaign network in the state. Obama narrowly won North Carolina's electoral votes in 2008.
North Carolina's GOP says volunteers made more than 200,000 voter contacts this past Saturday.
(AP) — Mitt Romney's campaign is working hard to chip away at President Barack Obama's advantage among early voters, and there are early signs the effort is paying off in North Carolina and Florida, competitive states that the Republican nominee can ill afford to lose. Obama is doing better in Iowa, another battleground state.
Obama dominated early voting in key states in 2008, giving him a big advantage over Republican John McCain before Election Day even arrived. Romney's campaign says Obama will not build such a big lead this time.
Early voting for the presidential election has started in more than 30 states. No votes will be counted until Nov. 6. But in early returns, Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters in Florida and North Carolina, while Democrats outnumber Republicans in Iowa.
(AP) — A man has been arrested in Florida for the 1996 shooting death of a police officer in North Carolina.
Thirty-six-year-old Scott Vincent Sica was arrested this week in Cape Coral, Fla., and charged with first-degree murder.
Sica is accused of killing 30-year-old Jonesville Police Sgt. Gregory Keith Martin 16 years ago. Sica was awaiting extradition to Yadkin County to face the charges.
Martin was killed after he stopped a truck on Interstate 77 on Oct. 5, 1996.
The FBI last year announced a $100,000 reward for information to help solve the case.
Jonesville Police Chief Roger Reece said Thursday that authorities obtained information and physical evidence that led to Sica's arrest. Reece would not provide additional details, citing the continuing investigation.
(AP) — Health providers are scrambling to notify patients in nearly two dozen states that the routine steroid injections they received for back pain in recent months may have been contaminated with a deadly fungal meningitis.
It became apparent Thursday that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people who got the shots between July and September could be at risk after officials revealed that a tainted steroid suspected to have caused a meningitis outbreak in the South had made its way to clinics in 23 states.
The Food and Drug Administration urged physicians not to use any products from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the steroid.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that so far, 35 people in six states, including North Carolina, have contracted fungal meningitis and five of them have died.
NC's major party gubernatorial candidates debating
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
NC's major party gubernatorial candidates debating
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK. N.C. (AP) — Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton will try to grab the attention of North Carolina voters just before the first presidential debate with their own gubernatorial debate.
Dalton and McCrory were set to debate for an hour Wednesday night. The event will air statewide on the University of North Carolina Television network and is set to end one hour before presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney take the stage in Denver.
This will be the first debate on live TV between Dalton and McCrory. They debated once before in June at the North Carolina Bar Association convention, but the forum aired on TV later.
Like the presidential race, Libertarian candidate for governor Barbara Howe won't participate Wednesday or in two other debates later this month
(AP) — Three U.S. Army soldiers from North Carolina have been killed in Afghanistan.
The remains of Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison of Maysville, Sgt. Donna R. Johnson of Raeford and Thomas J. Butler of Wilmington were flown into Dover Air Force Base Tuesday evening. All were identified as being killed in Afghanistan, though the military has not yet said when they were killed or identified the unit or units with which they served.
The North Carolina National Guard posted on its Facebook page that there had been an incident involving its troops in Afghanistan and that affected families had been notified. However, state guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said Tuesday he could not comment further or confirm those identified earlier were guardsmen.
(AP) — The Division of Motor Vehicles is ready to winnow permanent license plates the state of North Carolina will keep issuing to local governments and rescue squads, but no longer to orphanages or churches.
The division announced Monday it's complying with a law in which 120,000 permanent plates currently in use must be cancelled over the next few months and reissued under new restrictions. The color of the reissued plates will go from silver and black to an orange backing with black letters starting Oct. 15.
Current permanent plate holders will get letters notifying them of changes. Groups retaining permanent plates must pay a one-time $6-per-plate fee. The new law means many vehicles from mostly charitable or medical groups now will have to get traditional, more expensive "First in Flight" plates.
(AP) — The man who played Andy Griffith's son on television for eight seasons remembers the actor as someone who taught by example that leadership requires not only confidence and hard work but also humility and humanity.
Film director Ron Howard made those comments in an audio presentation Sunday at "Mayberry Days," the annual celebration of "The Andy Griffith Show" in Mount Airy. Howard played Sheriff Andy Taylor's son, Opie, from the ages of 6 to 14.
The event's organizers surprised the crowd at a Griffith tribute with Howard's recording.
Howard says he'll always be grateful for the creative environment that Griffith established on the set.
Griffith was a native of Mount Airy. He was 86 years old when he died July 3 at his Manteo home.
(AP) — A Republican state House candidate is scheduled to appear in court in November on a charge of assaulting the campaign manager of his Democratic opponent.
A misdemeanor criminal summons was issued last week for 64-year-old Bob Steinburg of Edenton, who is charged with simple physical assault of Russell Haddad, campaign manager for Democratic state House candidate Bill Luton.
The summons says Steinburg grabbed Haddad on the back of the neck as he tried to take a camera away from Haddad.
Steinburg says Haddad was trying to record a conversation between the two candidates after a campaign event Thursday in Hertford. He says he tried to cover up the camera with his hand and then tried to push it away.
Steinburg is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 14.
Hearings are scheduled this week to determine whether three people convicted of some of North Carolina's most notorious killings can be taken off North Carolina's death row under the Racial Justice Act.
The Fayetteville Observer reported the inmates want their death sentences lessened to life in prison under the act, which allows appeals if it's proved that racial bias was a factor in their sentencing.
They are Tilmon Golphin, a 34-year-old black man; Quintel Augustine, a 34-year-old black man; and Christina Walters, a 33-year-old American Indian woman.
Golphin killed a state trooper and a sheriff's deputy, and Augustine murdered a police officer. Walters killed two women in a gang-initiation ritual.
Earlier this year, Marcus Reymond Robinson became the first prisoner removed from death row under the law.
Alcohol ad approved for Charlotte light-rail train
Friday, September 28, 2012
(AP) — An alcohol advertisement will soon cover part of a Charlotte light-rail train after the idea was approved by the city's transit commission.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the Metropolitan Transit Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to move forward with two alcohol ads that previously had pending contracts. The commission also said it would wait 30 days before signing new alcohol ads.
Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon said he was upset by the decision. Cannon said he's concerned about the impact of alcohol ads on children and people trying to stop drinking.
In 2000, the Charlotte Area Transit System decided against all transit advertising. But in 2010, the MTC voted to allow most commercial advertising on light-rail trains and buses. Last May, the commission repealed the alcohol ban.
(AP) — Republican Pat McCrory says North Carolina politics have reached a new low after a video released by Democratic gubernatorial rival Walter Dalton accuses the former Charlotte mayor of being insensitive to black residents.
McCrory told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that Dalton should be "shameful" for approving such a video, which was emailed to Dalton supporters, It may turn into a television ad by the campaign's end.
The video includes several black speakers. Former state civil rights group president Skip Alston accuses McCrory of not understanding the African American experience in North Carolina. The voices refer indirectly to McCrory's support for bills requiring photo identification to vote and cuts to education.
Dalton and his allies have spent this week attempting to raise questions about McCrory and race.
(AP) — Motorists using Interstate 85 are going to see something new in Davidson County.
Workers with the N.C. Department of Transportation will shift traffic on that stretch of highway Thursday onto the newly constructed lanes of I-85 North. It's the latest step in the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project.
Lane closures will begin at 8 p.m. By Friday at 6 a.m., the traffic pattern shift should be complete, weather permitting. After that, the four new lanes of I-85 North will carry two lanes of northbound traffic and two lanes of southbound traffic from Exit 81 in Rowan County to Clark Road in Davidson County. Traffic is to remain in this pattern on I-85 North until crews finish building the new I-85 South lanes in April 2013.
(AP) — Police in Greensboro have charged a female student with attacking a teacher at a local high school.
Police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said Wednesday that the 17-year-old has been charged with disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and assault on a school administrator in the attack at Dudley High School.
Paramedics took teacher Wole Ajala to Moses Cone Hospital for treatment. Danielsen would not describe the teacher's injuries.
Guilford County schools chief of staff Nora Carr says the student's punishment will be swift and severe.
District policy prohibits a student who attacks a teacher from returning to the classroom unless the teacher agrees.
Dudley High last year reported two assaults on school personnel.
(AP) — Emmy-winning TV host and "Moon River" crooner AndyWilliams has died at age 84.
Williams' publicist, Paul Shefrin, said Wednesday that the silky-voiced singer died Tuesday night at his home in Branson, Mo., following a year-long battle with bladder cancer.
Williams said in November 2011 that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer but planned to continue performing at the namesake theater he built in Branson in 1992.
The clean-cut Iowa native began singing with his brothers as a child, and his easy style and mellow voice led President Ronald Reagan to call Williams "a national treasure." Though his version of "Moon River" made him world famous, it was among his many hits, including "Butterfly" and "Can't Get Used to Losing You."
(AP) — The Mecklenburg Audubon Society wants building operators in Charlotte to reduce the lighting at night to save migratory birds.
The Charlotte Observer reported the Audubon Society says many migratory birds fly at night, using the moon and stars to guide them.
The Audubon Society says the lighting on the skyscrapers confuse the birds. Many hit windows as they see the sky, water or trees reflected in the glass. Other birds circle buildings until they drop with exhaustion. Audubon volunteers have found four dozen birds on Charlotte streets in the past month.
The Audubon Society has not yet asked building owners to turn off the lights. But Paige Layne with Duke Energy says turning off the lights could help reach a goal of cutting energy use by 20 percent.
(AP) — Police in Winston-Salem say a man found dead in a rail yard was apparently electrocuted while trying to take copper wiring from a utility pole.
Authorities say a Norfolk Southern railroad worker found the body of 59-year-old Johnnie Lee Reed Tuesday morning at the base of a pole on the west side of the yard. They said he had wire cutters and other tools with him.
It was not known how long Reed might have been dead. Police do not suspect foul play.
Detectives are working with the Forsyth County Medical Examiner's Office to determine a cause of Reed's death.
(AP) — North Carolina's average combined score on the SAT college-entrance exam fell again in 2012.
The state Department of Public Instruction said Monday that average scores on each of the three sections fell by two points compared to 2011. Critical reading scores dropped to 491, math scores fell to 506 and writing dropped to 472.
Nationally, average scores on the critical reading fell one point to 496 and scores in the writing sections fell one point to 488. Math scores remained steady at 514. The maximum score on each section is 800.
The number of students taking Advanced Placement exams increased 7.8 percent and the number of scores high enough to get college credit increased 7.2 percent.
AP — The Marine Corps says it will court-martial two non-commissioned officers for allegedly urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters last year in Afghanistan and posing for unofficial photos with casualties.
The charges are against Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin and Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola. They are based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The two also were charged with other misconduct on the same day as the urination incident. That includes dereliction of duty by failing to properly supervise junior Marines and failing to stop and report misconduct of junior Marines.
Three other Marines were given administrative punishments last month for their role in the urination incident.
RALEIGH -- The Carteret County Sheriff Office is searching for a missing child:Abigale Faith Lefevers.
Abigale Faith Lefevers is a 12-year-old White female, approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 90 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing black Nike shoes and carrying a pink backpack with peace signs.
Allegedly, there is 1 abductor: Timothy Howard Newman.He’s 38 years old, white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 230 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Newman is a registered sex offender with two convictions in Stokes County.
His vehicle is a Red 1998 Chrysler Sebring with NC license tag number AKT6534.
If you have any information regarding this abduction, call the Carteret County Sheriff Office immediately at (252) 504-4800, or call 911 or *HP.
(AP) — North Carolina authorities say a 51-year-old man serving life sentences for murder and robbery has escaped while working on a prison farm.
The Department of Public Safety said in a release that James Ladd left his prison job Sunday outside Tillery prison in Halifax County. Ladd was operating a tractor on the farm. Officers found it abandoned just before noon. Tillery is a minimum security prison.
Ladd was convicted in 1981 for the shooting deaths of two men on a Yadkin County farm.
It's unclear why Ladd was housed at the minimum security prison. An agency spokesman could not immediately be reached.
According to the agency's Web site, Ladd's had seven infractions since 1981, most recently in 2010 for tobacco use. Prior to that, he disobeyed orders in 1992.
(AP) — The release of a federal investigative report that painted a North Carolina sheriff as a racist who routinely violates the civil rights of Latinos and sought to obstruct a federal investigation could mark the beginning of a protracted legal fight.
U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Nanda Chitre says the agency has no plan to prosecute Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson on criminal charges. But Johnson and the federal government appear headed for a lawsuit that could last for years.
University of North Carolina School of Law professor Catherine Y. Kim says there is no mechanism for the U.S. government to remove a duly-elected local official from office.
If Johnson fails to reach a negotiated settlement, federal officials suggested they would sue. Johnson has given no indication he is interested in a settlement or if he has given any thought to resigning.
(AP) — Authorities say a 16-year-old Boy Scout has died after falling off a cliff at Stone Mountain State Park.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Christopher Overcash of Kannapolis died Saturday.
State parks spokesman Charlie Peek says the teen was with a group of Boy Scouts that had camped overnight at the park. Overcash was about 100 yards off the marked trail on the mountain's summit when he fell.
The mountain is a 600-foot-tall granite dome.
Wilkes County emergency director Greg Hendren says the call for help came around noon Saturday. The teen died at the scene.
(AP) — Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is visiting a North Carolina campus to speak and take questions at a public forum.
The former two-term governor of New Mexico was slated to continue his 15-stop nationwide college tour at Duke University in Durham on Thursday night.
Johnson was a longshot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination before switching to the Libertarian Party last December. He won that party's nomination at its national convention in Las Vegas in May.
Johnson supports legalized marijuana, low taxes and immigration reform.
Johnson will be on the North Carolina presidential ballot. There are more than 16,000 registered Libertarian voters out of more than 6.4 million registered voters statewide.
(AP) — Authorities in Charlotte say a 76-year-old woman who had been reported missing was struck and killed by a truck while walking in southbound Interstate 85.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Shirley Pharr apparently had wandered about 3 1/2 miles from her home in northwest Charlotte when she was struck by two tractor-trailers early Wednesday morning.
N.C. Highway Patrol troopers say a motorist saw a woman walking northbound in the center southbound lane and went to the next exit to turn around in hopes of helping the woman. By that time, the trucks had struck Pharr, killing her instantly.
The truck drivers told troopers they couldn't avoid striking the woman. The patrol says no charges will be filed in the case.