Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
PIPELINE PROTEST-COMPRESSOR STATION-THE LATEST
The Latest: Panel delays permit for pipeline compressor
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A Virginia air pollution panel is delaying a vote on a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The board voted 3-1 Wednesday to allow additional public comment on a proposed permit for a compressor station in a historic African-American community west of Richmond. The station is needed to pump gas through the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina.
Gov. Ralph Northam recently removed two members of the board, a move that angered minority groups and environmentalists. They said Northam was trying to improperly influence the board to help Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer.
Northam’s office said the board members’ terms had expired this summer and their removal was unrelated to the compressor station vote.
SCHOOL BUS CRASH-NORTH CAROLINA
N. Carolina school bus crash injuring 13 yields more charges
TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The woman charged with hitting a school bus that overturned in North Carolina is now charged with misdemeanor child abuse.
News outlets report that the North Carolina Highway Patrol initially charged 56-year-old Kimberly Ann Austin with driving while impaired and driving left of center in the Monday crash that sent 13 middle school students to the hospital. Officials announced Tuesday that she’s also charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
Troopers say Austin hit the bus carrying a driver and 19 students. Twelve students suffered minor injuries, while a 13th was hospitalized in critical condition but expected to survive. Austin and the bus driver were also hurt.
Austin told WBTV-TV on Tuesday that she wasn’t drunk but is “torn up over the whole thing.”
PATROL CAR STOLEN
North Carolina couple accused of taking deputy’s patrol car
BENSON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina couple is accused of stealing the patrol car of a sheriff’s deputy who was answering a call next door.
Johnston County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Caldwell told news outlets 36-year-old Charles Thomas Bullock was charged with stealing a car and stealing a firearm Monday, while 41-year-old Nicole Allsbrook Thomas was charged with conspiring to commit the thefts. The firearm charge stems from the gun that was in the patrol car’s trunk.
Caldwell said a deputy answered a general call for service at a place next door to where Bullock and Thomas live. Bullock and Thomas were able to drive off in the car, but were stopped a short time later.
It’s unclear whether the keys were left in the patrol car.
Reports didn’t include comment from the couple.
CHRISTMAS TREE FIRE
Christmas tree may have caused North Carolina townhouse fire
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Fire officials in North Carolina say the residents of a townhouse that caught fire fingered their Christmas tree as the culprit.
Citing a Durham Fire Department release, news outlets report the early Wednesday fire heavily damaged both floors of the home, as well as the attic, and sent one resident to the hospital for smoke inhalation. An adjacent home suffered moderate smoke damage.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the department said the residents noted the Christmas tree was on fire.
The department warns others to keep Christmas trees watered, and at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from heat sources.
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS
N. Carolina gov. vetoing bill with congressional race redo
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor says he’s vetoing legislation directing new elections if fraud is found in a disputed U.S. House race because the hastily approved bill also adds new cover for lobbyists and people who violate campaign finance laws.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday he’ll sign the legislation if state lawmakers remove the section. Cooper objects to details like requiring that state elections officials refer apparent campaign finance crimes to a separate commission for a confidential review on whether prosecutors are notified.
The bill also would require new primary elections besides a new general election if mishandled ballots or other problems cast doubt on the true result in the 9th Congressional District race and force a redo.
Unofficial results show Republican Mark Harris leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes.
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS-DOWLESS
Attorney: Man at center of ballot controversy broke no laws
BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) – The attorney for a man at the center of a controversy in a disputed North Carolina congressional race said he hasn’t broken any campaign laws and ongoing investigations will prove it.
Attorney Cynthia Adams Singletary said in a statement Tuesday that any speculation regarding McCrae Dowless and the 9th District election is premature and unwarranted. Singletary said Dowless was “a highly respected member of our community who is routinely sought after for his campaign expertise.”
Republican candidate Mark Harris said in an interview last week that it was his decision to hire Dowless, who is the focus in an investigation into how absentee ballots were handled.
The state elections board has declined to certify the election results in light of mail-in absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County and other issues in Robeson County.
Rescue says local dog was shot dozens of times with BB gun
MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina animal shelter says a Morganton dog has been found suffering dozens of BB gunshot wounds to its face, head and body.
A Better Life Animal Rescue President Gwen Hood says the wounded dog named Brownie was found lying in a ditch during a snowstorm last week. News outlets report Brownie’s owner, Edith Pritchard, was found and the Jack Russell Terrier mix was taken to a veterinarian.
Brownie returned home Monday and is now blind in one eye. Pritchard says Brownie had been allowed outside unsupervised, along with her 6-year-old Chihuahua named Petey. Petey died suddenly the same night Brownie was wounded. Hood says it’s believed Petey got into something poisonous.
Hood says Brownie was tortured, and Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant says animal control is investigating.
US reviews report of imports from forced labor in China camp
BEIJING (AP) – The U.S. government is reviewing reports of forced labor at a Chinese detention camp where ethnic minorities must give up their religion and language and work in factories.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday that reporting by The Associated Press and other media “for the first time appears to link the internment camps identified in Western China to the importation of goods produced by forced labor by a U.S. company.”
The AP tracked shipments from a factory in a detention camp in China’s Xinjiang region to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina. The company ships clothing to universities, colleges and schools around the United States.
A U.S. workers group said “forced labor of any kind is a severe violation of university codes of conduct.”