Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
UNC SYSTEM PRESIDENT
Interim UNC system president says campus calm is priority
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – The interim president of North Carolina’s public universities says his priorities include preventing teachers and researchers from being distracted by problems swirling around the system.
William Roper addressed the University of North Carolina’s governing board on Friday for the first time since the group pushed out his predecessor and the head of the flagship Chapel Hill campus. The university system also is grappling with the future of a dismantled Confederate memorial at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Since taking over as system head from Margaret Spellings 10 days ago, Roper says he has focused on finding a temporary substitute for UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt, who is out next week. She ordered the granite base of a Confederate memorial removed and was ordered out months before she intended to leave.
MISSING BOY FOUND
Mom: 3-year-old found after 2 days missing is doing well
ERNUL, N.C. (AP) – The mother of a 3-year-old boy who was missing for two days before he was found alive in North Carolina says he’s doing well and “already asked to watch Netflix.”
News outlets report the man who found Casey Lynn Hathaway spoke at a news conference Thursday night, alongside Brittany Hathaway and Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes.
Shane Grier said searchers responding to a tip heard Casey calling for his mother. Grier found him around 50 yards (45 meters) into the woods, entangled in briars.
Hughes believes Casey had moved around before ending up where he was found, not far from the house from which he went missing Tuesday. Authorities had been concerned that Casey wasn’t adequately dressed for the cold temperatures. He was found wearing his jacket, still zipped up.
A previous version of this report had an incorrect age for the boy.
Conference focuses on redistricting trends, legal challenges
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – People unhappy with recent trends in drawing congressional and legislative maps are gathering on a North Carolina campus to talk about ways they say will make redistricting more equitable.
A two-day “Reason, Reform & Redistricting Conference ” begins Friday at Duke University.
About 300 people are expected to attend the event organized in part by Common Cause. The group has sued over both North Carolina’s congressional and legislative districts, alleging excessive partisan bias by Republican mapmakers. Common Cause lawyers planning to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in March to ask that the state’s congressional map be overturned are among conference speakers.
Mathematicians and other professors trying to quantify the effects of gerrymandering will speak, as will those trying to change laws in North Carolina so non-partisan redistricting methods are mandated.
North Carolina woman found guilty of killing boyfriend
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman has been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2015 shooting death of her boyfriend.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports 50-year-old Robin Renee Richardson was sentenced Thursday to no less than 73 months in prison for the slaying of Tim Fry. Authorities say Richardson repeatedly shot Fry with a 12-gauge shotgun during a drunken dispute and then called police and admitted to the crime. She was originally charged with first-degree murder in the slaying.
Defense attorneys argued Fry assaulted Richardson, and she acted in self-defense. Prosecutors said the defense’s argument was an attempt to distract jurors from evidence proving malice and premeditation.
Richardson has spent three years in jail awaiting trial and may get credit for time served. Her defense attorneys say they plan to appeal.
ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA
Elections board nominees made amid undecided Congress race
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democrats and Republicans have nominated members for a reconstituted North Carolina elections board tasked with resolving the nation’s last undecided congressional election.
The state parties’ leaders this week each provided four nominees to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who makes the appointments. There will be three Democrats and two Republicans on the board.
A new law creates the five-member board Jan. 31 that succeeds a nine-member board struck down by a court as unconstitutional.
The new board will decide if Republican Mark Harris won the 9th District race in November or it could order a new election because of absentee ballot irregularities.
Missing from the Democrats’ nominees is Josh Malcolm, chairman of the previous board. Malcolm told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday he decided it was best he not serve.
CAMP LEJEUNE-CONTAMINATED WATER
Navy denies claims linked to contaminated water
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Navy secretary says he is denying thousands of claims from veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated drinking water decades ago at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Secretary Richard Spencer says at least 4,400 claims totaling $963 billion are being denied because there is no legal basis for paying them. He says it was a difficult decision but suggested that claimants can go to Capitol Hill to seek legislation providing restitution.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as many as 900,000 service members were potentially exposed to tainted water at the base between 1953 and 1987.
The VA decided in 2017 that eligible veterans stationed at Lejeune during that time could receive government disability benefits. The agency estimated it would cost about $2.2 billion over five years.
PAPA JOHN’S-DONATION-BENNETT COLLEGE
Papa John’s to donate $500,000 to historically black college
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – The chief executive of the Papa John’s pizza chain says the company is giving $500,000 to a historically black North Carolina women’s college trying to avoid losing its accreditation.
CEO Steve Ritchie announced the gift to Bennett College Thursday on his Twitter page. The college is trying to raise more than $5 million by Feb. 1 to stave off losing its status with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
In a news release, the company says it would support a national campaign to inspire participation in Bennett’s fundraising campaign.
Papa John’s was embroiled in controversy last year when Forbes reported founder John Schnatter used a racial slur during a media training conference. Schnatter apologized and resigned as chairman, but said his comments were taken out of context.
ALCOA-NORTH CAROLINA DAMS
N. Carolina’s fight for dams, control of river, fizzling out
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s decade-long battle to control one of the state’s largest rivers and the electricity that once fueled a factory employing 1,000 is drying up.
A federal appeals court in Washington last week rejected the state’s lawsuit trying to force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider licensing the Yadkin River dams until 2055. A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Josh Stein said Thursday that a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is being considered. The court accepts about 1 percent of appeals.
North Carolina legislators and governors have fought for the dams since Alcoa shuttered the aluminum smelter powered by the water-produced electricity in 2009.
The dams sold more than $225 million in electricity to commercial customers in the past decade. Alcoa sold the dams two years ago for about $243 million.