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FLORENCE-SPECIAL SESSION-THE LATEST
The Latest: Unanimous approval given to Florence bills
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina lawmakers have quickly approved their initial legislation designed to address the damage and logistics problems caused by Hurricane Florence.
The General Assembly gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a pair of bills now headed to Gov. Roy Cooper, who is expected to sign them into law. Cooper called legislators back for a special session to begin the recovery for what he called an “unprecedented disaster.”
The bills put more than $56 million in a special Florence disaster relief fund, most of which can be used to match what the federal government provides in a preliminary relief package. They also allow schools in the hardest-hit areas to be forgiven up to 20 lost instructional days and ensure workers in shuttered schools are paid.
The deadline for traditional voter registration applications also would be extended by three days.
Lawmakers are returning Oct. 15 to take up more recovery legislation.
BUSINESS I-40 CLOSURE
NCDOT plans open houses to discuss Business I-40 closure
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The N.C. Department of Transportation is holding open houses in the next two weeks to alert motorists to the planned closure of Business Interstate 40 in Winston-Salem.
A news release from the department said one open house is scheduled for Oct. 9 at BB&T Ballpark, with the next one set for Oct. 16 at the Rhodes Center for the Arts, both in Winston-Salem.
The department said those in attendance at both meetings will receive pocket-sized detour maps of downtown Winston-Salem and will be able to ask questions about the project.
Representatives from the Piedmont Authority Regional Transportation and Winston-Salem Transit Authority will provide information about their programs.
Business 40 is closing between Peters Creek Parkway and U.S. Highway 52 for more than a year beginning in November.
NORTH CAROLINA AWARD
6 to receive North Carolina Award in November ceremony
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Six people will receive North Carolina’s highest civilian honor in November.
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced Tuesday Gov. Roy Cooper will present the North Carolina Award at a banquet at the Raleigh Convention Center on Nov. 16. The award was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in fine arts, literature, public service and science.
Among the honorees for 2018 is Bill Leslie, a former reporter and anchor for WRAL-TV In Raleigh whose musical passion led to eight albums celebrating North Carolina’s people, natural beauty and Scotch-Irish heritage.
Also being honored are Carolyn Q. Coleman, Gene Roberts and William L. Roper for Public Service; Michael A. McFee for Literature and Barbara B. Millhouse for Fine Arts.
TROPICAL WEATHER-TOXIC SITES
Post-Florence coal ash tests at 1 site yet to raise alarms
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina environmental officials say sludge washed from buried coal-ash pits by Hurricane Florence’s flood waters hasn’t polluted a neighboring river with heavy metals at levels concerning to human health.
State officials say water samples taken from three sites near Duke Energy Corp.’s closed H.F. Lee power plant in Goldsboro more than a week after Florence hit the state, found arsenic, mercury and three other metals within acceptable levels.
But a Duke University coal ash expert cautioned Tuesday the initial tests for contamination of the Neuse River don’t tell the full story. Water quality professor Avner Vengosh says that’s because neither the state nor environmentalists have measured pollutants that may have dropped to the river bottom and are likely to linger in the sediment.
Biesecker reported from Washington, D.C.
Florence death toll in North Carolina rises by 2, to 39
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The number of deaths in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence has risen by two, bringing the state’s total to 39.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced in a statement Tuesday that the two fatalities involved people killed during storm cleanup last month.
The governor’s office says a 47-year-old man was found dead outside a Duplin County home on Sept. 21 due to a head injury he received after falling from a ladder while repairing storm damage. Officials say a 69-year-old man in Pender County died on Sept. 22 after falling from a roof while cleaning storm debris and repairing damage.
Florence dumped more than 30 inches (75 centimeters) of rain in parts of eastern North Carolina last month. Tens of thousands of buildings were damaged and thousands of homes were rendered uninhabitable.
ATF: Hundreds of guns stolen in Memphis seized near Chicago
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Federal authorities say most of the roughly 400 guns stolen from a United Parcel Service facility in Tennessee have been recovered in the Chicago area.
Authorities say they seized about 365 Ruger .22-caliber and .380-caliber firearms after police responded to a call about suspicious activity in the southern Chicago suburb of Midlothian on Sunday afternoon – about 12 hours after the guns were taken from a UPS facility in Memphis. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent disclosed that information in court documents Tuesday.
ATF had said the guns were shipped from a Ruger factory in North Carolina but were taken by two men in a U-Haul truck, one of whom was subsequently taken into custody. ATF spokesman Michael Knight says the truck also was recovered.
STOLEN GUNS-TENNESSEE-THE LATEST
The Latest: ATF: Guns stolen in Tennessee found near Chicago
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Federal authorities say hundreds of guns that were stolen from a United Parcel Service facility in Tennessee have been recovered in the Chicago area.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says in court documents that most of the roughly 400 guns stolen from a UPS facility in Memphis were found Sunday afternoon in Midlothian, a Chicago suburb.
ATF says the guns were taken early Sunday by two men in a U-Haul truck. ATF spokesman Michael Knight said the truck was recovered along with the guns.
ATF said Tuesday two people have been charged in the theft, and one person has been arrested.
Knight said the estimate of 400 stolen firearms being shipped from a Ruger factory in North Carolina makes it one of the largest single gun thefts the ATF has investigated.
UPS said it’s cooperating with law enforcement.
This story has been corrected to show that court documents say the guns were found Sunday, not Tuesday.
University acts to make up for time lost due to Florence
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina university has canceled its fall break and pre-exam reading day to help make up for time lost due to Hurricane Florence.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the UNC Board of Governors approved Tuesday a waiver of 150 to 200 minutes of lost class time for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The university is making up about 450 to 500 minutes in other ways, including extending class time by five minutes to catch up for time lost.
UNCW Chancellor Zito Sartarelli said Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks will remain in place. Winter graduation is still scheduled for Dec. 15.
Other lost time will be made up by faculty adding online assignments, readings and face-to-face meetings. Faculty are to rewrite their syllabi to reflect the changes.