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February 17, 2019
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February 18, 2019
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST



North Carolina to hold hearing on undecided US House race
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Board of Elections is holding a hearing on ballot fraud allegations in the nation’s last undecided congressional election.
The multiday hearing starting Monday will include the results of a monthslong investigation into allegations that a political operative tampered with mail-in ballots in a rural county.
Republican Mark Harris holds a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in unofficial results, but the state has refused to certify the election.
At the end of the process, the board is expected to either certify a winner in the race or order a new election.
And depending on the outcome, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives could also step in with constitutional powers that make it the final judge of the elections and qualifications of its members.



Snow goose hunt in Vermont runs March 11-April 26
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says the state’s spring snow goose hunt will take place from March 11 through April 26.
Officials say each year since 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an order allowing the reduction of the population of migrating greater and lesser snow geese and Ross’ geese that have grown so much that the geese are destroying habitat for themselves and other species.
The daily bag limit for hunters in Vermont is 15 snow geese.
Seven other states in the so-called Atlantic Flyway will hold similar hunts this year. Those states are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.



IG report: Ex-housing agency director Watt misused position
WASHINGTON (AP) – Mel Watt, the former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, misused his position when he attempted to coerce a female employee of the agency to engage in a personal relationship with him, according to a report from the agency’s inspector general.
The report finds that Watt, who stepped down as director last month, misused his official position in an attempt to obtain a personal benefit and was also not candid in answering questions about the incident.
Watt, who served for 21 years as a congressman from North Carolina before taking the FHFA job, says in a response included in the report that he strongly disagreed with the findings.
The IG report was released this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Washington Post.



Beloved rhinoceros dies at age 49 in North Carolina zoo
ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Zoo says that a beloved rhinoceros named Stanley has died.
The zoo said in a news release that the 49-year-old southern white rhinoceros died Friday after suffering neurological symptoms and a suspected stroke in recent weeks. A sudden decline in his health this week prompted zookeepers’ decision to humanely euthanize him.
Stan was born in South Africa in 1970 and had lived at a zoo in Asheboro since 1987.
Stacey Weatherly was Stan’s lead zookeeper. She says her favorite memories include summer campers interacting with Stan and petting him.



EPA hits chemical maker for not notifying on new compounds
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says a chemical maker’s North Carolina plant may have broken federal law by failing to notify the agency before it started manufacturing and repurposing new industrial compounds.
The EPA said in a violation notice letter this week that The Chemours Co. also failed to provide information showing when the company learned the chemical GenX contaminated water wells and properties around its factories near Fayetteville and Parkersburg, West Virginia. The agency says the violations were found after the two plants were inspected in 2017.
Chemours spokeswoman Lisa Randall says the company has since made changes to address some of the issues. She wouldn’t say why Chemours didn’t provide EPA with the required notices.
The EPA says its Chemours investigation may find other violations. Fines could follow.

This story corrects spelling of company spokeswoman’s name.



Trump picks former Alabama official to lead FEMA
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says he will nominate a former Alabama official to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Jeffrey Byard held several positions with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency before he joined FEMA in 2017 during the agency’s response to Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Byard is currently the associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery.
If confirmed by the Senate, Byard would succeed Brock Long, who resigned this week after a two-year tenure in which he managed the response to historic wildfires and major hurricanes. Long was also dogged by questions about his use of government vehicles to and from his North Carolina home.
Long said he wants to spend more time with his family. His last day is March 8.



Police: Robbery suspect hurt in fight with store employee
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a cellphone store robbery suspect was critically injured after fighting with an employee who held him until police arrived.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said in a statement that officers responding to a report of a robbery Thursday found employees holding a suspect on the ground. Officers discovered he needed medical attention and police say CPR was performed until he regained a pulse, then taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Police say their investigation found two males entered the store and fled after one of them stole phones. One suspect fought with an employee and was held until police arrived. Police say the other suspect fled in a truck and an employee fired a handgun, striking only the truck.



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.



AP-WF-02-18-19 1120GMT