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NORTH CAROLINA-BALLOT BATTLE
Supreme Court: 2 amendments fought by Cooper to be on ballot
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s highest court has decided two proposed amendments to the state constitution addressing judicial vacancies and the state elections board will be on ballots this fall.
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed a lower court decision denying a request by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to block the questions for those amendments from appearing on ballots. Cooper had argued the questions remained flawed even after the Republican-controlled legislature altered them in response to an earlier court ruling.
The decision means there will be six referendum questions on the November ballot. Cooper and Democratic allies have criticized the proposals because they would swing control over filling bench vacancies from the governor to the legislature and give General Assembly leaders direct say over who would serve on the elections board.
North Carolina schools get $22M in safety grants
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top education official says the state’s public schools are getting a security boost as the new school year starts by using much of the funds lawmakers set aside this year for safety and mental health programs.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced at a Raleigh news conference Tuesday that education officials have distributed $22 million in safety grants since July, adding cameras and hundreds of new campus-based police officers across the state.
The increase in protection comes after the General Assembly approved $35 million to respond to school shootings and violence. Funds were also earmarked to create an anonymous school safety tip line and mobile app and expand mental health services.
Johnson expects the tip line and mobile app to begin operating before next school year.
Judges: Too late for new congressional map for fall election
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A panel of federal judges has agreed it’s too late to create a new congressional map for North Carolina’s fall elections, even though the judges declared the current lines illegal partisan gerrymanders.
The judges issued their order Tuesday, a week after they ruled for election advocacy groups, the state Democratic Party and Democratic voters who sued and accused Republican legislators of excessive partisan bias while drawing the 2016 map. The judicial panel had raised the possibility of drawing new boundaries now and holding this year’s elections under them.
The case victors told the judges last week a new map would be too disruptive. The judges agreed Tuesday, writing a new schedule likely would confuse voters and depress voter turnout.
This means congressional candidates will keep running under current lines.
SEAPLANE EMERGENCY LANDING
Seaplane makes emergency landing in North Carolina lake
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ARDEN, N.C. (AP) – Landing gear issues have prompted a seaplane to make an emergency landing in a North Carolina lake.
Skyland Fire and Rescue Chief Ryan Cole tells The Asheville Citizen-Times no injuries were reported in the Tuesday afternoon landing at Lake Julian. Cole says the pilot of a Howell Scott T Searey amphibious aircraft was having issues with the landing gear coming down.
Cole says the Asheville Regional Airport notified the fire department of the issue. He says the plane may have been capable of landing at the airport, but the pilot determined landing on the 300-acre (121-hectare) lake would limit damage to the aircraft.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says the agency is investigating.
CAPE FEAR BRIDGE
Overnight closures planned for Cape Fear Memorial Bridge
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Work crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation have scheduled overnight closures for a bridge to allow an annual inspection.
A news release Tuesday said the NCDOT bridge maintenance electrical department and the New Hanover bridge maintenance department was scheduled to perform inspection of the aerial cable and to install new rubber insulating strips on the cables.
The bridge closures are scheduled for Tuesday night and again on Wednesday night.
The inspection is done every year starting the Sunday after Labor Day. It was moved up this year to accommodate work already scheduled for the bridge the week of Sept. 10. The annual inspections ensure that cables will remain functional and in good repair for the duration of their life expectancy. The rubber strips are replaced every other year.
North Carolina woman accused of scamming women in her care
(Information from: The Gaston Gazette, http://www.gastongazette.com)
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have accused a woman of scamming an elderly neighbor in her care out of $85,000 to fund a drug habit.
The Gaston Gazette reports Gastonia police said they stopped a car driven by 37-year-old Tammy Lynne Erickson Monday and found cocaine and heroin inside a cardboard box.
Gaston County Police Sgt. Josh Hamlin said 86-year-old Obiedean Cox relied on Erickson to provide in-home care following surgery. Hamlin said Erickson discovered that Cox and her husband stored money in their house and where it was kept.
Hamlin said police have recovered about $25,000 of the stolen money, but are holding it as evidence until it can be returned.
Erickson is jailed on bond of $49,000 on multiple charges. It’s not known if she has an attorney.
Adams Publishing Group buys 2 Cooke Communications sites
(Information from: The Daily Reflector, http://www.reflector.com)
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Adams Publishing Group says it has bought Cooke Communications operations in North Carolina and Florida.
The Daily Reflector of Greenville reports it is included in the sale to Adams, along with The Rocky Mount Telegram, The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, The Key West Citizen in Key West, Florida, and several non-daily newspapers and websites.
Two Oceans Digital, KeyWest.com and FloridaKeys.com will remain in Cooke Communications Florida.
The deal was closed last Friday. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Adams Publishing operates 30 daily newspapers, more than 100 non-daily newspapers, and other enterprises in 20 states and the District of Columbia, with more than 2,300 employees. Cooke Communications is a family owned company founded by John Kent Cooke Sr. and his family in 2000.
ROAD RAGE-SELF DEFENSE
Conviction tossed for man who shot tire, claims self defense
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina appeals court has thrown out the conviction of a man who shot another driver’s tire in traffic, saying his self-defense rights weren’t properly explained to jurors.
The state Court of Appeals granted Charles Ayers a new trial on Tuesday, saying the judge should have told jurors that Ayers had a right to defend himself and to not retreat from the confrontation.
Ayers was convicted of firing into an occupied vehicle. The Army veteran argued he feared for his safety after another driver tailgated him and appeared to try to force him off the road in 2015.
The other driver said Ayers was slowing down and speeding up to block him from passing.