Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
North Carolina revenue forecast sees slight uptick
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Top economists at the General Assembly and for Gov. Roy Cooper expect a slightly higher uptick in North Carolina government tax collections as they build out the next state budget.
The legislature’s fiscal office released the updated agreed-to forecast this week. It predicts overall revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30 will be $151 million higher than anticipated when the current year’s budget was approved.
That’s less than 1 percent of the $24 billion current budget, but is on top of the $365 million in additional revenue lawmakers already anticipated compared to last year. The fiscal office memo warns revenues can change significantly in April.
Cooper will soon unveil a proposed budget through mid-2021. The legislature will then pass a plan and present it to Cooper for his signature.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT-NORTH CAROLINA
School drops case of student who bloodied Silent Sam statue
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill hearings panel has dismissed an honor court case against a graduate student who colored a Confederate statue on campus with ink and blood.
The News and Observer reports a letter sent to student Maya Little said the panel voted to dismiss the case Thursday. It says the panel ruled her rights were violated during a previous hearing.
Little has said she coated the statue, known as Silent Sam, in red ink and her blood in April to visibly convey the statue’s representation of violence against blacks. Protesters later tore down the statue.
In a separate case, Little was charged in December with inciting a riot and assaulting an officer at a rally protesting the school’s intention to build a $5.3 million center to house the statue.
NC National Guardsmen to return home from overseas
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – More than 100 North Carolina National Guardsmen are returning home after serving in Kuwait, Iraq and Syria.
The National Guard said in a news release that members of the 878th Engineer Company will return home Friday at Bethlehem Church in Gastonia.
The company provided command and control of five engineer platoons that provided specific engineering support to U.S. and allied forces in the three countries. The company constructed base camps and internment facilities and also repaired and maintained other infrastructures.
The unit also has responded to national disasters, including the severe flooding in Georgetown and Columbia, South Carolina, in 2015.
Man arrested in shooting of 2 people at Walgreens store
(Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com)
GARNER, N.C. (AP) – A 60-year-old man has been arrested in the shooting of two people at a Walgreens store in North Carolina.
Police said Stephen Denning, of Garner, will be charged in the shooting Thursday morning of 31-year-old Sarah Wright and 33-year-old Brandon Gordon.
Wright, a pharmacy manager, was listed in stable condition at WakeMed late Thursday. Gordon was listed in critical condition.
Authorities did not immediately release a motive. It was not clear whether Denning knew the victims.
WRAL-TV reports that a 911 call was made by one of the victims, who said an “angry customer” did the shooting.
Minutes later, authorities were called to a nearby restaurant, where Denning was arrested.
An official said a Wake County sheriff’s deputy shot Denning. He was listed in stable condition at WakeMed.
North Carolina House Democrats press for gun restrictions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gun-control advocates in the North Carolina legislature are pressing again for weapon restrictions they say will reduce the risk of mass shootings and other firearm violence.
Several House Democrats filed omnibus gun-safety legislation on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
The measure would require background checks for all gun sales, beef up the safe-storage law and raise the age to own assault-style weapons to 21. It would also ban high-capacity magazines and let local governments set their own gun regulations.
First-term Democratic Rep. Christy Clark of Mecklenburg County says the bill is a first step toward addressing gun violence she calls a “public health crisis.” Republicans leading the General Assembly have passed laws this decade actually loosening some gun laws.
BEAR STUCK-TRASH TRUCK
Hungry bear goes for ride after getting stuck on trash truck
WINDSOR, N.C. (AP) – Drivers were startled to see a hungry bear that got stuck in the back of garbage truck and took a ride across a stretch of eastern North Carolina.
News outlets report that a motorist called Bertie County 911 on Wednesday morning about a bear hanging off of the truck on U.S. Route 17.
Apparently, the snack-seeking bear climbed into the trash truck during a stop and became trapped after the driver secured the netting that prevents garbage from blowing out.
Sheriff John Holley says a deputy stopped the truck with the bear perched on top just outside of Windsor. The driver, who hadn’t been aware of the stowaway, pulled back the net and the bear ran off before the truck continued on to the landfill.
Rep. Walter Jones remembered for deep convictions at funeral
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Friends and political colleagues of the late U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. are remembering him as a man of integrity and deep Christian conviction who fought for constituents and what he believed was right.
Hundreds attended Thursday’s funeral Mass for Jones at a Catholic church in Greenville. He died Sunday on his 76th birthday.
Jones served for more than 20 years on Capitol Hill. He was a fiscal and social conservative who reversed course on his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, becoming a leading critic of military action there.
Connie Gruber told the crowd that Jones never stopped working to absolve her late Marine Corps husband of wrongdoing for a 2000 Osprey crash that killed 19 people. The Defense Department cleared him and the other pilot in 2016.
RV SWEPT AWAY
RV swept away by rain apparently found weeks later
(Information from: WLOS-TV, http://www.wlos.com/)
MARSHALL, N.C. (AP) – A man whose RV was swept away by a western North Carolina river may have found its remains miles away.
WLOS-TV reports that debris found 7 miles (11 km) away appears to be part of the vehicle Derek Velthuis lived in. It was swept away around Dec. 28 during heavy rains in the area.
French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson says the debris was found along a part of the river not accessible by road.
Velthuis told the station that the camper was his home. He left work when he heard of the flooding, but was only able to salvage some personal documents and insurance paperwork.
He told the station Wednesday that he feels some closure about finding the debris but is still devastated. He’s still waiting on an insurance payment.