Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
Asheville plans prescribed burns around reservoir
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Asheville is making plans for prescribed burns around an area reservoir to clear brush in hopes of preventing future wildfires.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that controlled burns initially planned for February have been delayed at the North Fork Reservoir, also called the Burnette Reservoir. It’s one of two manmade lakes that supply water for the city’s water system that serves over 100,000 customers including the beer industry.
Now, prescribed burns wouldn’t start until at least March 13. Lee Hensley, the city watershed supervisor, says there is a window of about six more weeks for doing spring burns
Hensley says that after early or mid-April seedlings are more susceptible to heat damage.
Officials say smoke from the burns could be visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and other areas.
Cooper: Ruling voiding voter ID amendment has ‘sound basis’
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says a trial judge’s ruling striking down North Carolina’s new constitutional amendment mandating photo identification to vote “has a sound basis” in the law but ultimately will be resolved by higher courts.
Cooper told reporters Tuesday that Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins wrote a “well-reasoned opinion” recently that voided a pair of amendments approved by voters in November.
Collins agreed with the state NAACP that two amendments had been put on the ballot last year by a General Assembly that had been “illegal constituted” because of racial bias in House and Senate districts.
Republican legislative leaders are appealing Collins’ order and seeking to have its enforcement delayed. The ruling brings uncertainty to whether a December law implementing the voter ID amendment ultimately will stand.
Gov. Cooper ready to present full 2-year budget plan
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is ready to offer his ideas on how to spend state money for the next two years.
Cooper planned to unveil on Wednesday the details of his state budget proposal through mid-2021. His spending plan comes with more weight compared to the past two years because Republicans in charge of the legislature no longer can override his vetoes on their own.
The governor revealed some budget provisions Tuesday. He’s pitching a $3.9 billion bond referendum package, most of which would go to public education. He also said his proposal will include a Medicaid expansion plan and a rural economic development program.
Cooper said he recognizes he won’t get everything in his budget but hopes a bipartisan budget can be negotiated with the GOP.
Great Smoky Mountains is backdrop for biology class
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Some Middle Tennessee State University students are spending their spring break earning credits in the Smokies.
According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the students are part of a pilot education program called SmokyMtnU. It’s a partnership between the park and the school where students take a four-credit biology course focusing on the Smokies and then spend two weeks of hands-on work in field.
During the spring break trip this week, students are learning how park staff manage wildlife, protect resources through law enforcement, and care for the natural history collections.
A second trip during finals week will include a multi-day backpacking trip for students to learn about backcountry management.
The park hopes to expand the program next year.
Man gets 230 years for coercing women into prostitution
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has been sentenced to at least 230 years in prison for coercing women into prostitution.
The Fayetteville Observer reports 42-year-old Robin T. Applewhite was also sentenced Tuesday to pay the women about $608,000 in unpaid wages. The newspaper says the women are unlikely to get much, if any, of that award.
Applewhite was convicted Monday of charges including human trafficking, promotion of prostitution and conspiracy involving four women, three of whom testified against him and one of whom is dead.
A 5 Sparrows anti-human trafficking organization member, Kelly Twedell, attended the trial. She says some of the women testified they were given drugs and advertised on Backpage, a now-defunct website that featured sex worker advertisements.
Applewhite’s wife, Samantha, is set to be sentenced in the case.
High school suspends white player for slur ahead of playoff
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The night before a state quarterfinal boys basketball game that already had a predominantly black school calling foul, their predominantly white opponent has suspended a top player for using a racial slur on social media.
Ardrey Kell coach Mike Craft tells The Charlotte Observer the Snapchat post using the slur in reference to West Charlotte prompted an indefinite suspension Monday night.
As the higher-seeded team, West Charlotte would normally host the playoff game, but the North Carolina High School Athletic Association said its gym was too small . Supporters asserted the move to a neutral site was race-and socioeconomics-based.
Less than 10 percent of Ardrey Kell students are on free and reduced lunch, compared to 98 percent at West Charlotte.
The unidentified player’s parents say he’s “ashamed and deeply sorrowful.”
About $25M be forfeited to US to resolve criminal case
WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal prosecutors have announced a settlement in a case involving falsified records about supplies being provided to the military.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release on Tuesday that the civil settlement is part of a global settlement involving a criminal case and False Claims Act allegations in which approximately $25 million will be forfeited to the U.S.
Court documents say Hikmatullah Shadman operated companies which charged the U.S. more than $77 million for delivering supplies to service members. An investigation found thousands of apparent falsified documents submitted by Shadman’s companies for payment.
Shadman’s primary company pleaded guilty in January to paying gratuities to two U.S. service members in Afghanistan, and to conspiracy to influence the award of subcontracts to ensure favorable treatment in the contracting process.