AP-NC Newswatch

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March 13, 2019
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March 13, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



The Latest: Confederate statue base, column removed by crane
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city has taken away the base and column that supported a Confederate statue as it finishes up removal of the monument.
Shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, workers at a historic courthouse in Winston-Salem used a crane to hoist a square, ground-level piece of the base from a grassy area. It appeared to be the last piece of the base.
The removal began Tuesday morning when they took down the statue of an anonymous Confederate soldier and put it on a flatbed truck. They spent the rest of the day dismantling the tall column and base that supported the statue. In all, the monument had stood about 30 feet (9 meters) high.
The monument will eventually be placed in a cemetery.
Mayor Allen Joines said he didn’t have an estimate of the cost of the city-funded removal.



Investigation into N. Carolina woman’s 2011 death is revived
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have revived an investigation into the death of a woman whose body was found in a ditch nearly a decade ago.
The News & Observer reported Tuesday that Fuquay-Varina police have asked to search a man’s home and his truck as part of the investigation into the death of 41-year-old Sandra Denise Thomas. Thomas was last seen alive early one morning in 2011. Her body was found hours later, partially clothed and covered in mud.
She had injuries to her head, neck, face, arms and ankles that police have said suggested a “motor vehicle may have been involved in her death.” Police say Thomas called the man that morning before leaving a party. They hope the search uncovers DNA evidence linking the man to Thomas.



North Carolina considers hand-held phone ban while driving
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Distracted driving dangers are getting revisited in North Carolina, where lawmakers are advancing a prohibition on hand-held cellphone use in the name of reducing fatalities and potentially reining in insurance rates.
A House committee overwhelmingly backed legislation on Tuesday to bar drivers from holding their wireless devices to take calls, as well as using them to watch videos or text. Violators would face fines, with knocks on insurance records for repeat offenses.
The state already banned texting or emails while driving for a decade. But lawmakers say it’s hard for authorities to enforce the rule.
Sixteen states now prohibit hand-held cellphone use, and supporters say most of them saw decreases in motor vehicle crashes soon after.
Some committee members said Tuesday the proposal doesn’t address the heart of distracted driving.



Hearing held for volleyball coach charged in college scheme
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – An initial court appearance has been held for the Wake Forest University women’s volleyball coach accused in a scheme to help get wealthy children into elite schools.
A brief docket entry says William Ferguson was advised of his rights during the hearing Tuesday in Greensboro. He’s been charged with racketeering conspiracy.
Federal court documents allege that the leader of a for-profit college counseling business directed that money be paid to the women’s volleyball program and a camp controlled by Ferguson. In exchange, prosecutors say Ferguson agreed to designate a daughter of one of that business’s clients as a volleyball recruit to help her get into the university.
The university has placed Ferguson on administrative leave.
A lawyer for Ferguson, Kearns Davis, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.



Republicans fast-track bill to delay voter ID until 2020
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republicans are fast-tracking legislation that would delay requiring photo identification to vote in North Carolina for this year’s elections.
The state Senate approved on Tuesday a measure that would slow down the required use of voter ID until the 2020 elections. It could reach the House floor by Wednesday.
A law approved in December that directed how voter ID would be implemented had envisioned the requirement beginning with municipal elections later this year.
But previously unscheduled congressional elections following the death of Rep. Walter Jones Jr. raised questions whether the mandate would apply to this race, for which absentee mail-in balloting begins Friday.
Bill sponsor Sen. Warren Daniel says the delay will give time to ensure all of the ID details are worked out by state and local election officials.



Jones remembered by legislative body where he once served
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators are recalling the late U.S. Rep. Walter Jones for what they call his commitment to his eastern North Carolina district and to integrity.
Jones was the subject of a resolution approved on Tuesday by the General Assembly, where he served for 10 years in the state House as a Democrat. He later switched to the Republicans and was elected to Congress in 1994, where he represented the 3rd District until his death last month at age 76.
Some senators who served with Jones in the state House recalled Jones during the resolution’s debate as a man of compassion who took policy stands on principle and wasn’t afraid to challenge chamber leadership.
Jones’ widow and daughter watched from the gallery as lawmakers lauded him.



The Latest: Charity tied to college scam gave $2M in grants
BOSTON (AP) – Tax records show that a California charity accused of funneling money in a national college admissions bribery scheme claimed it gave out $500,000 to the University of Southern California.
An Associated Press review of Key Worldwide Foundation’s filings shows the Southern Cal contributions were part of nearly $2 million in grants in recent years. The foundation reported revenues that spiked from $451,600 in 2013 to $3.7 million in 2016.
A message left late Tuesday at the school wasn’t immediately returned.
Foundation founder William “Rick” Singer pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon and acknowledged using his company and charity in the scheme.



National group: North Carolina teacher pay moves up rankings
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s standing on teacher pay keeps improving compared to other states.
The National Education Association released on Tuesday its annual teacher salary rankings. The data show North Carolina ranked 34th in average teacher pay during the 2017-18 school year at more than $51,200, compared to 38th the year before.
The North Carolina Association of Educators – the state’s NEA affiliate – says last year’s average pay ranked fourth in the Southeast.
An NCAE news release also estimates North Carolina will move to 29th overall and 2nd in the Southeast when this school year ends, with an average salary of almost $54,000.
The Republican-controlled legislature has approved teacher raises for five consecutive years. But Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and allies like NCAE have complained veteran teachers have been left behind.



AP-WF-03-13-19 1020GMT