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September 27, 2018
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September 27, 2018
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT


Drug sweep of North Carolina tribal land nets 76 arrests
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Federal officials say 76 people were arrested on drug charges in a sweep of traffickers on western North Carolina tribal land.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters Thursday the operation, which focused on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ reservation, began weeks ago and culminated in recent days with arrests by federal, state, local and tribal officers.
He said officers seized about 250 pounds (113 kilograms) of heroin, pills and other drugs with a $2 million street value.
The tribe’s principal chief, Richard Sneed, said he hopes the operation closely involving tribal police becomes a national model. He said reservations have been hit particularly hard by the national opioid crisis.
Twelve arrestees face federal charges carrying up to 20 years in prison; the rest face local or tribal charges.



87-year-old accused of child sex crimes dating back to 1992
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – An 87-year-old man has been accused of sex crimes against two children under the age of 13.
Citing warrants filed in Wake County, The News & Observer reports that Ronald Faison Stell was charged Sept. 10 with felony sex offenses with a child, and then charged with additional counts on Sept. 21.
Investigators say the first charges involve crimes between 2011 and 2014, while the second charges involve a different child who was attacked between 1992 and 1996.
Stell’s bail was set at $1 million and he was ordered to have no contact with the victims or any juveniles without adult supervision. He posted bail Tuesday.
It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer to comment for him.



‘Hurricane Cowboys’ rescue animals abandoned during Florence
(Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A team of people led by a Virginia man called the “Hurricane Cowboy” is working to rescue animals in the Carolinas abandoned during Hurricane Florence.
Patrick McKann is a horse trainer and former bull rider, rodeo cowboy and jockey. He earned his moniker last year when providing aid in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.
McKann tells The State his team has rescued horses, donkeys, chickens, dogs and cats so far, while also providing emergency transportation for people.
The newspaper reported Wednesday that the team worked briefly in Pender County, North Carolina and is now working their way through devastated areas of South Carolina.
The 42-year-old McKann says the team has spent the last few days in Conway, where he says the water was steadily rising.



The Latest: Waste treatment plant disabled due to flooding
GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina state health and environmental officials say a wastewater treatment plant is not working due to flooding from Hurricane Florence and untreated wastewater is now being discharged into a tributary that feeds the Waccamaw River.
Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority notified the Department of Health and Environmental Control on Wednesday about the situation affecting the Conway Wastewater Treatment Plant in Conway.
DHEC says it’s in contact with Grand Strand Water about the situation and other wastewater systems in the area to check their systems’ status.
Residents are advised to avoid contact with water around and downstream of the Conway facility.



Florence floods breed large, aggressive mosquitoes
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city dealing with fallout from Hurricane Florence has been swarmed by aggressive mosquitoes nearly three times larger than regular mosquitoes.
North Carolina State University entomology professor Michael Reiskind tells The Fayetteville Observer that Florence’s floodwater has caused eggs for mosquito species such as the Psorophora ciliata to hatch. These mosquitoes, often called ‘gallinippers,’ are known for their painful bite and often lay eggs in low-lying damp areas.
The eggs lie dormant in dry weather and hatch as adults following heavy rains. Reiskind says the state has 61 mosquito species, and “when the flood comes, we get many, many billions of them.”
He says a silver lining is the mosquitoes aren’t transmitting many diseases, but resident Robert Phillips still describes their rise as “a bad science fiction movie.”



The Latest: Father says search for missing son is “torture”
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – The father of a missing 6-year-old North Carolina boy said the search for his son has been “torture.” He said he just wants his little boy back home.
Ian Ritch joined Gastonia police and FBI agents for a news conference Wednesday, hours after appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to talk about Maddox Ritch. The boy disappeared Saturday as he walked with his father at Rankin Lake Park.
Ian Ritch said his son ran a short distance from him before he broke into a sprint. The father said Maddox usually runs away, but would either slow down or stop. He said once he couldn’t see his son, he got scared.
With the help of friends who were walking with them, Ritch searched for his son but couldn’t find him. Park personnel also joined in the search but didn’t see Maddox, either.



Brother who testified to abusing dead teen accused of bigamy
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
FAITH, N.C. (AP) – The adoptive brother of a North Carolina teen whose remains were found five years after she disappeared has been accused of bigamy.
The Charlotte Observer reports that 25-year-old James Parsons testified in 2015 that he and his siblings routinely abused Erica Parsons, egged on by their mother, Casey Parsons. Casey Parsons and her husband, Sandy Parsons, have been charged with first-degree murder and other charges in Erica’s death.
Erica was 13 when she went missing in 2011, although she wasn’t reported missing until 2013.
According to a Rowan County Sheriff’s Office statement, James Parsons married a woman in June while still married to another woman. He was charged Tuesday and given a written promise to appear at further court proceedings.
The newspaper couldn’t reach him for comment Wednesday.



US House approves $1.7 billion in disaster aid for Carolinas
WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has overwhelmingly passed legislation that would provide $1.7 billion to help residents of the Carolinas and elsewhere recover from recent natural disasters.
The aid was added to legislation to keep Federal Aviation Administration programs running beyond Sept. 30.
The bill passed 398-23 on Wednesday. It also requires that the FAA set minimum requirements for seat width and legroom on airplanes as lawmakers respond to complaints about cramped seating.
Lawmakers describe the disaster aid as a down payment. They say billions more will be needed in the months ahead to help communities devastated by Hurricane Florence.
Lawmakers are working to extend the FAA’s programs for five years while tackling other priorities such as disaster relief.
The Senate needs to pass the bill before it can be signed into law.