Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Elections chief seeks stability in board probe
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s election board chief is concerned about complications if the board’s absentee ballot investigation in a congressional district race is not resolved within the next couple of weeks.
The problems, according to Chairman Josh Malcolm, are conflicting directives from a three-judge panel and from the state legislature.
The judges agreed this week to delay enforcement of their ruling eliminating the current nine-member board as unconstitutional until Dec. 28. But a bill approved Wednesday and sent to Gov. Roy Cooper would keep that board in place until Jan. 31.
The board planned a hearing by Dec. 21 on the 9th Congressional District probe, but Malcolm suggested its work might not finish by Dec. 28.
Malcolm told the judges in a letter late Wednesday that extending the ruling delay further until the 9th District probe is settled would be in the public’s interest.
Deadline approaches for Florence aid in North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Home and business owners suffering damages from Hurricane Florence are running out of time to request federal government aid.
The deadline is Thursday night to apply for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. More than 99,000 applications for help after the September storm’s record rains and flooding have been filed.
People can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362, going online , visiting a local disaster recovery center or using FEMA’s mobile app.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office says more than $1 billion in state and federal resources for Florence response already has been approved.
Cooper earlier this week also wrote President Donald Trump asking for federal disaster assistance in 21 counties that received damages from Hurricane Michael’s remnants in October.
N Carolina’s Bennett College appeals loss of accreditation
(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – After two years of probation, one of just two historically black private women’s colleges in the country has lost its accreditation.
But the Greensboro News & Record reports that Bennett College President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said Tuesday that the college has appealed the accrediting agency’s decision.
In 2016, the college was placed on probation that was later extended another year for failing to comply with the commission’s standards for financial resources and financial stability. Probation is limited to two years.
Without accreditation, Bennett cannot accept federal funds to cover tuition and other student expenses, dealing a blow to financial aid.
The 469-student college will remain open and accredited until Dawkins appears at a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges hearing Feb. 18.
TRANSPORTATION GRANT-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina gets $60 million for road, bridge improvement
WASHINGTON (AP) – North Carolina is getting $60 million for road and bridge improvements thanks to a federal grant program.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the grants are made through Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, Transportation Grants. The program is designed to support road, rail, transit and port infrastructure across the country.
Of the total, $23 million will help the N.C. Department of Transportation replace 77 bridges in 17 rural counties. A $20 million grant will help the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority in Raleigh construct a new multimodal transit center in downtown to support local bus operations and pedestrian access.
Also, a $17.1 million grant will help the City of Hickory develop a 1.7-mile-long bike-pedestrian trail and a bridge over U.S. 321.
UNC Wilmington sets records in 2018 with gift, enrollment
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is ending the calendar year with a pair of significant records.
The school recently announced it received a $10 million gift commitment from David and Helen Congdon to establish the David S. Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems. In addition, the computer information systems building will also be rededicated as David S. Congdon Hall.
David Congdon is a 1978 graduate of UNCW. His gift represents the largest outright gift commitment in university history.
In addition to the gift, UNCW set all-time enrollment records with total enrollment surpassing 16,700 and a 16 percent increase in graduate student enrollment.
SEVERE WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Officials reduce North Carolina storm death toll
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials in North Carolina have revised downward the death toll from this week’s severe weather.
The state’s total initially included an 82-year-old woman in Haywood County whose death was reported by state officials as storm-related. They initially said she died when her oxygen was cut off due to power outages.
A news release from the governor’s office Wednesday said a review of the woman’s death led officials to remove it from the count, dropping the death toll to two. A statement from the state’s chief medical examiner said it was thought at first to be storm-related based on lack of power to an oxygen concentrator, but that proved not to be correct.
One man died Sunday when a tree fell on him in Mecklenburg County. In Yadkin County a truck driver had gotten stuck along Interstate 77 during the height of the storm Sunday and experienced chest pains after shoveling and died at a local hospital.
North Carolina city prepping for possible marijuana sales
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city’s alcohol regulators say they’re preparing to sell marijuana should it become legal in the state.
The Asheville Alcoholic Beverage Control board chairman told the City Council Tuesday that there’s a national trend of marijuana legalization, and it’s the board’s job to anticipate changes.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports Board Chairman Lewis Isaac told the council he expects the agency would oversee marijuana sales and distribution if the drug were to become legal.
He says the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control system recently built a $3 million warehouse to handle growing liquor sales. He says the warehouse was also built to hold marijuana products if needed.
Recreational marijuana sales are legal in several states including Colorado and Massachusetts. Medical marijuana is legal in nearly two dozen states.
Jury rules again Smithfield Foods hogs nuisance to neighbors
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal jury is again siding with neighbors who complained that a Smithfield Foods industrial-scale hog operation in North Carolina was such a nuisance it damaged how they lived their lives.
The jury on Wednesday said eight neighbors should be compensated with between $100 and $75,000. The same jurors began hearing more testimony into whether the Virginia-based, Chinese-owned pork giant should be forced to pay more as punishment for their business practices.
Smithfield Foods owns Sholar Farm, the Sampson County animal feeding operation housing up to 7,000 swine. Neighbors complained about powerful odors, clouds of flies, midnight noises and screeching trucks.
Jurors in three earlier, related cases decided Smithfield Foods should pay nearly $550 million in penalties. Those assessments will be reduced under a state law that limits punishment.