Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS
North Carolina GOP wants candidate in Congress despite probe
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republicans say they want their candidate in a still-undecided U.S. House race marred by ballot fraud allegations to take his seat in Congress despite acknowledging that a replacement election may be required.
The state Republican Party and 9th Congressional District GOP said Monday that the state elections board should immediately certify unofficial results showing Mark Harris with a narrow lead. The GOP groups say Harris should be sworn in in about two weeks if the elections board doesn’t find that voting irregularities would have changed the outcome.
The elections board last week postponed the hearing where it plans to describe investigations into missing absentee ballots in Bladen County and whether unsealed ballots illegally handled by collection teams there could have been altered. The meeting is now scheduled for Jan. 11.
North Carolina woman gets 5 years for pregnancy scam
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman has been sentenced to about 5 years in prison for pretending to be pregnant, falsely receiving Medicaid benefits and taking donations to support the fake pregnancy.
The StarNews reports 39-year-old Wendy George pleaded guilty Friday to charges including medical fraud. The New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office says George used a pregnant friend’s urine to obtain a positive pregnancy test that she then used to receive Medicaid benefits.
A district attorney’s office release says George also posted online about putting her baby up for adoption and got at least 18 people to send her money for food, doctors’ appointments and housing. It says she also bought an ultrasound image that she shared with donors. An Ohio couple reported her to Carolina Beach police last year.
2nd man arrested in kidnapping, rape of Maryland woman
WASHINGTON (AP) – Authorities in Maryland and Washington, D.C., say a second man accused in the kidnapping and rape of a Maryland woman has been arrested in North Carolina.
News outlets report D.C. police say 29-year-old Mark Blue was arrested Monday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Authorities say 25-year-old Nick Savoy surrendered last week to police in Roanoke, Virginia.
Both Washington men are accused of forcing a woman into a car near a commuter train station in Temple Hills, Maryland.
Authorities have said the men then robbed and repeatedly raped the woman during an hour-long “nightmare” before releasing her in a District neighborhood. Authorities say the woman then knocked on doors in the area to get help.
Both men are charged with rape, armed robbery and kidnapping. It’s unclear if they have lawyers.
WICKLES PICKLES PRODUCTION
Wickles Pickles production to return to Alabama
(Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews)
BRUNDIDGE, Ala. (AP) – Sims Foods Inc. says it’s moving the production of Wickles Pickles from North Carolina to Alabama.
Al.com reported Monday that the company expects to finish moving Wickles Pickles production to a Magnolia Vegetable Processors site in Brundidge by the end of this year.
The company moved its processing operation to North Carolina in 2005. It owns a stake in Magnolia, which opened the Brundidge site last year.
Wickles Pickles started as a small venture between Will and Dana Ferniany, whose pickle process was based on a 90-year-old family recipe.
In the 1990s, Dana Ferniany’s cousins, Trey and Will Sims, and friend Andy Anderson started Sims Foods and began packing pickle jars at a home in Dadeville, Alabama. The company sold more than 2 million pickle jars last year.
SCHOOL BUS CRASH-THE LATEST
The Latest: Car driver charged in North Carolina bus crash
TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman has been charged with driving while impaired after a crash with a school bus that sent 13 students to the hospital.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol issued a news release saying Kimberly Ann Austin was also charged with driving left of center. The 56-year-old Taylorsville resident was being treated Monday afternoon at a hospital.
It wasn’t clear if she had a lawyer who could speak for her. A working home phone listing couldn’t be found, and the district attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email asking if Austin has an attorney.
The Highway Patrol says that Austin’s car crossed the center line and hit the bus carrying a driver and 19 students. The Patrol said 12 of the students suffered minor injuries, while one was in critical condition but expected to survive.
North Carolina congressman out for rest of term with illness
North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones will miss the remainder of the current congressional term because of illness.
The Herald-Sun of Durham reports the 75-year-old 3rd District Republican hasn’t cast a roll call vote since Sept. 26. Jones has missed the last 27 roll call votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, including some in late September and since the House re-convened in November.
Last Tuesday, he was granted a leave of absence for the rest of 2018. His office said Jones plans to return to Washington on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress, but offered no specifics on Jones’ illness. No one from his office responded for a request for additional comment Monday.
Jones’ district includes Kinston, Greenville, New Bern and the northern half of the coast.
Good dog! Griffin the golden retriever earns honorary degree
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A service dog named Griffin has received an honorary diploma for accompanying his owner through class and field work as she earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
Brittany Hawley of Wilson, North Carolina, says the golden retriever worked right along with her as she assisted patients during internships. And he attended every class with her at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Albany.
Griffin was awarded an honorary diploma at Clarkson over the weekend. The board of trustees said he demonstrated “extraordinary effort, steadfast commitment and diligent dedication to the well-being and student success” of 25-year-old Hawley.
Hawley uses a wheelchair and has chronic pain. She says Griffin provides emotional support as well as doing tasks such as opening doors and retrieving items.
DEAD BIRDS-SOUTH CAROLINA
Dozens of dead birds wash ashore in South Carolina
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina authorities are investigating why dozens of dead birds have been washing ashore.
The Post and Courier reports birds of several species washed up during the weekend in North Myrtle Beach.
A spokesman for the city, Pat Dowling, says they include pelicans, seagulls, water ducks and cormorants. Dowling says it’s unusual for the Grand Strand to have so many dead birds in a two- or three-day period.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert McCullough says the agency is conducting necropsies.
Investigators from the Coast Guard and the Department of Health and Environmental Control flew along the shoreline to look for signs of a spill from a dredging boat working on a beach renourishment project. Coast Guard Lt. J.B. Zorn says they found no clear signs of pollution.