AP-NC Newswatch

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March 21, 2019
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March 21, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch






Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT



Evers picks Wisconsin to defeat Duke for NCAA championship
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Tony Evers says Wisconsin will somehow beat Duke to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship.
Evers, a Wisconsin alumnus, issued a news release Thursday predicting Wisconsin, Duke, Texas Tech and North Carolina will reach the Final Four. He predicts Badgers big man Ethan Happ will draw so much defensive attention that other Wisconsin shooters will get open shots.
Wisconsin is 23-10 and faces Oregon in the first round Friday. Duke, a perennial college basketball powerhouse, is 29-5 and boasts freshman phenom Zion Williamson, a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has picked Wisconsin, Marquette, Kansas and Maryland to advance to the Final Four. He thinks Kansas will beat Maryland in the championship.



N. Carolina bulldog named Henri is new Cadbury bunny
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – The new Cadbury bunny is an English Bulldog named Henri.
The North Carolina dog competed against thousands of other animals in the chocolate company’s first-ever “Bunny Tryouts” and was announced as the winner on Wednesday. He will star as the bunny in a commercial next month.
The company launched the competition this year to revamp a 1994 commercial about its creme eggs that showed a clucking bunny and various animals trying out for the role while wearing bunny ears.
Henri’s owners, Kathie and Tim Santillo, also won a cash prize of $5,000.



USC’s new president ready to ‘fix’ school after scandals
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The new president of the University of Southern California says she wants to be a part of “fixing” the school following a series of high-profile scandals – including the massive college admissions bribery case that broke last week.
Carol Folt, a biologist and former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will become USC’s president on July 1.
Rick Caruso, the chairman of the board of trustees, said Wednesday that Folt’s selection shows the university is ready to move forward.
Folt said the scandals didn’t give her pause about taking on the job.
She’ll replace interim President Wanda Austin. Austin stepped in after C.L. Max Nikias resigned last summer amid reports the school ignored complaints of widespread sexual misconduct by a longtime campus gynecologist.



Insta-gram: Teen accused of using platform to advertise weed
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina teen who went by “itslilhotgirl” on Instagram is accused of using the social media platform to sell marijuana.
Citing a Durham County Sheriff’s Office warrant, The Herald-Sun reports 18-year-old Hannah Lyne Peters posed online with what appeared to be a pound of marijuana and a pink-and-black semi-automatic rifle and would post stories advertising her wares.
An informant twice bought from Peters and a deputy found marijuana in a car she was in March 5. She was released pending cooperation, but a March 13 Instagram story appeared to show around an ounce of marijuana. She was charged Tuesday.
A phone listing for Peters was disconnected. She didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.



Lawmakers doubt double-digit raises for state agency workers
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Lawmakers in North Carolina say the state Department of Transportation misinterpreted a state budget provision and gave about 5,300 workers pay raises as high as 65 percent.
The News & Observer reported Wednesday that the 2018 provision gave NCDOT funds to boost salaries that were no longer competitive, but lawmakers say the agency misunderstood how much funding it got.
Three state budget chairmen say NCDOT was supposed to use 2 percent of payroll expenses for raises, but it instead interpreted the provision to mean it could use 2 percent of the state’s $3.7 billion in highway funds.
NCDOT has since spent nearly $30 million on the pay hikes. NCDOT officials say they stand by their interpretation of the provision.



Man convicted of rape, murder in death of artist visiting DC
(Information from: WTOP-FM, http://www.wtop.com)
WASHINGTON (AP) – A man has been convicted of raping and killing a North Carolina artist as she was moving out of an apartment in Washington, D.C.
WTOP-FM reports 30-year-old El Hadji Toure, formerly of Maryland, was convicted Wednesday and is set to be sentenced in June.
Authorities say 34-year-old Corrina Mehiel was in the District as part of a work-study program at George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.
Her body was found in the sublet apartment on March 21, 2017, a day after she was bound, repeatedly stabbed in her neck and side and sexually assaulted. Toure also stole her car and credit cards. He was arrested days later and has been in custody ever since.



Duke Energy proposes changes in rate increase proposal
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Duke Energy is changing its proposal to raise rates on its South Carolina customers.
Duke Energy Carolinas spokesman Ryan Mosier told news outlets the company is dropping its proposal to increase the “basic facilities charges” by about $20 a month. Duke has nearly 600,000 customers in northwestern South Carolina.
Duke had proposed raising the fee from $8.29 to $28 on all customers. That charge is paid by everyone regardless of electricity use.
The proposal has been widely criticized by Duke customers. Instead, the company is proposing to increase the fee to $11.86.
On average, Duke has said it needs to raise rates by about 12 percent for residential customers and 8 percent on industrial customers.
The Public Service Commission will make the final decision, which would take effect June 1.



Tennessee Valley Authority plans to increase solar power
(Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com)
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – The nation’s largest public utility plans to rely more on solar power in the future, according to proposals in a draft long-range power plan.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the Tennessee Valley Authority expects to produce somewhere between 4 and 9 gigawatts of solar power over the next two decades while cutting power generated by burning coal. The amount depends on several factors, but renewable energy is predicted to increase and coal generation to decrease in all 30 approaches analyzed by TVA in its draft Integrated Resource Plan for 2040.
Hunter Hydas is a project manager for the resource plan and said during a public hearing Wednesday night in Chattanooga that the increase in solar is projected because it’s becoming less expensive.
TVA serves about 10 million customers in parts of seven states.



AP-WF-03-21-19 1520GMT