Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
NC school system reaches $10M settlement over tornado damage
(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – More than a year after a tornado struck, a North Carolina school system says it’s reached a $10 million settlement with its insurance company for damage to three schools.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports that officials with Guilford County schools said Thursday they reached the settlement for damage to three elementary schools: Erwin Montessori, Hampton and Peeler Open.
The three have shared space with other schools since shortly after the tornado struck.
School officials said in a news release that they knew they wouldn’t get enough money to replace the schools, which weren’t in good shape before the tornado struck.
The district said the cost to build a new elementary school in the state last year ranged from almost $14 million to almost $30 million, depending on size.
Man wanted for S. Carolina killing arrested in N. Carolina
RED OAK, N.C. (AP) – A fugitive charged with murder in South Carolina is being held in North Carolina following a traffic stop on Interstate 95.
News outlets report 25-year-old Christopher Fuller of Lake City, South Carolina, was served Thursday with warrants for first-degree murder in a shooting death in Williston, South Carolina. The Nash County Sheriff’s Office also charged him with drug trafficking.
Authorities say as a deputy questioned the driver outside the car, the passenger sped off. A resident later saw someone removing items from a car and hiding them in nearby woods.
Authorities identified that man as 33-year-old Larry Harris of Columbia, South Carolina, who faces drug charges and a charge of fleeing to elude arrest.
Both men had first appearance hearings scheduled for Friday.
ELECTIONS BOARD-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
N Carolina elections director, top lawyer exiting roles
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The professionals in charge of protecting North Carolina’s elections for more than five years are being replaced.
State elections director Kim Strach and top elections attorney Josh Lawson leave their jobs Friday.
Strach was ousted earlier this month from the job she’s held since 2013. Strach was promoted to the job under Republican former Gov. Pat McCrory, but the elections board is now back in Democratic hands following lengthy litigation.
Lawson decided to quit when Strach was dumped. He’s being succeeded by his deputy, Katelyn Love.
Strach and Lawson worked to increase election security and investigated wrongdoing by former Republican state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell and 9th Congressional District GOP candidate Mark Harris.
Strach previously oversaw campaign finance investigations of Democratic House Speaker Jim Black and former Democratic Gov. Mike Easley.
MISSING WOMAN-REMAINS FOUND
Remains found in car linked to ex-partner of missing woman
(Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com)
SOUTH HILL, Va. (AP) – Human remains have been found in a stolen car linked to the ex-boyfriend of a missing Virginia woman.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the remains found Thursday will be sent a medical examiner’s office for autopsy and identification.
State police are searching for 43-year-old Amy Renee Fabian, who hasn’t been seen since May 24 when a man was found dead in her home. Forty-one George William Knisley, of Maryland, has been charged with first-degree murder in that man’s death.
Police say investigators believe Knisley fled Fabian’s home in the car, which was reported stolen last week. The remains were found near the intersection of State Route 138 and U.S. 1. That intersection lies just above North Carolina, where Knisley was arrested Friday and later fled authorities before being apprehended by a passerby.
AVA GARDNER FESTIVAL
Ava Gardner Festival returns to NC for 1st time in 5 years
(Information from: The Wilson Daily Times, http://www.wilsondaily.com)
SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) – The Ava Gardner Festival is returning to North Carolina for the first time in five years.
The Wilson Times reports the festival is scheduled to return Friday and Saturday at the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield.
Museum director Lynell Seabold says several family members are expected to attend, as is Carmen Vargas, who was the actress’ personal assistant for the last 13 years of her life.
Gardner was born in 1922 in Grabtown, a community outside Smithfield. She died Jan. 25, 1990, at the age of 67 and is buried near Smithfield.
A new exhibit, “Ava: My Real Story,” will be unveiled Friday night. Seabold says it’s a photo essay-style display with an interactive kiosk.
The festival begins Friday morning and runs through Saturday afternoon.
Senate budget crossing finish line, talks with House next
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Senate’s version of how North Carolina state government should operate for the next two years is almost done.
The chamber scheduled debate Friday for the second and final vote on the spending plan drawn up by Republicans. The GOP-controlled House already approved its spending plan four weeks ago, so the next step is for the two chambers to negotiate a final deal. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could veto that plan if it doesn’t provide more things to his liking.
The Senate gave initial approval to its current plan on Thursday. The chamber’s Republicans highlighted education spending, tax cuts and reserves to get prepared for the next recession. Democrats said the Senate budget falls woefully short in meeting education and environmental needs and leaves out Medicaid expansion.
Tennessee otter dies after eating food from park visitors
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee otter named Otto has died after park visitors gave him food that his body couldn’t tolerate.
News outlets report Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium announced Otto’s death Thursday, saying an autopsy will be conducted to determine his official cause of death. The park says Otto’s sickness and death is exactly why it prohibits people from feeding park animals.
It says Otto joined the park in 2017 at 9 months old. He was previously cared for at a North Carolina rehabilitation facility that took in Otto and his sister after the two lost their parents in a flood. Officials initially planned to release the siblings into the wild, but Otto had become too accustomed to humans. It’s unclear what happened to his sister.
CENSUS CITIZENSHIP QUESTION-LAWSUIT
Republican redistricting expert blamed for census question
NEW YORK (AP) – A new court filing by lawyers opposing adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census alleges a longtime Republican redistricting expert played a key role in making the change.
The filing Thursday in Manhattan federal court comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legality of the addition announced last year.
Opponents say adding the question will discourage immigrants from participating and strengthen congressional representation and funding for areas where mostly Republicans reside.
The lawyers asked a New York judge to issue sanctions or other remedies. They say a Justice Department official and a transition official for President Donald Trump testified falsely about the Justice Department’s role in adding the citizenship question.
They say new documents reveal gerrymandering expert Thomas Hofeller’s role in adding the question.