Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Judges rule North Carolina elections board unconstitutional
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A three-judge panel says changes made to North Carolina’s elections board over the last year were unconstitutional, but said the board can remain in place through the November elections.
Tuesday’s ruling agrees with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s argument that the Republican-controlled General Assembly went too far in limiting his authority to name the board.
However, a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot would allow lawmakers to name board members. Cooper twice sued to keep it off the ballot. After it was rewritten to remove attempts to strip the governor of powers to appoint members of other boards and commissions, the lawsuit was thrown out.
Elections board spokesman Pat Gannon told The News & Observer of Raleigh the board is still reviewing the order and had no comment.
Wendy’s worker who put ‘Chubby’ on customer receipt fired
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – A franchise owner of a North Carolina Wendy’s says an employee who called a customer “Chubby” on an order has been fired.
News outlets report the Carolina Restaurant Group issued a statement Tuesday that says they apologized to customer Jimmy Shue and terminated the employee, whose identity hasn’t been released. Shue says he went to the Gastonia restaurant this month and ordered two sandwiches, providing the cashier with his name “clear as day.”
He says he then noticed the receipt listed his name as “Chubby,” which he says was an attempt to make fun of his weight. He says another employee then hesitantly called out “Chubby” to alert him the order was ready and restaurant patrons laughed. He says he was embarrassed and left, later contacting Wendy’s corporate.
Scope of Michael’s fury becomes clearer in Florida Panhandle
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) – The scope of the Hurricane Michael’s fury has become clearer after nearly a week of missing-persons reports and desperate searches of the Florida Panhandle neighborhoods devastated by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.
Florida officials say the storm is responsible for at least 16 deaths in the state. That count was twice the number previously tallied by The Associated Press.
The AP’s tally also includes 10 deaths in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.
Emergency management officials say 137,000 Florida customers remain without power in an 11-county region that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia border.
But a glimmer of hope has emerged now that cellphone service has started to return to the stricken zone.
North Carolina governor signs Florence emergency spending
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor is moving fast to authorize legislation spending $400 million to quickly help people and communities reeling from Hurricane Florence and setting aside another $450 million for upcoming needs.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said Tuesday he signed into law the legislation passed late Monday.
Cooper said in a statement the emergency spending bill marked a good step toward storm recovery. The Democrat is urging the Republican-dominated legislature to spend more for affordable housing, farmers and more.
The bill’s quick passage and Cooper’s quick signature marked a pause in the sharp partisanship that’s typified North Carolina’s government for years.
Most of the money will come from the state’s emergency reserves. The state has about $2 billion in rainy-day funds, and this year’s state budget left $560 million unspent.
HURRICANE MICHAEL-BROKEN BEACH
Could rebuilding ruin ‘mom-and-pop’ Florida beach town?
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Residents of Florida’s Mexico Beach worry that the town’s “mom-and-pop” character could become a casualty of Hurricane Michael.
The town of about 1,000 people was nearly wiped off the map by the storm last week. It wrecked the mayor’s hardware store and the only grocery in town. It splintered beachfront condos and smashed the inn where tourists have stayed for four decades. It reduced seafood restaurants to rubble and literally broke the bank.
Mayor Al Cathey liked to boast that “there’s no corporate America” in Mexico Beach. Local ordinances have kept out high-rise condos and resort hotels.
But now, the mayor and others fear that could change if property owners choose to sell rather than rebuild.
North Carolina mayor calls for tighter security after deaths
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The mayor of a North Carolina city is calling for stronger security after two deaths in the downtown area in little more than a month.
News outlets report Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly says there will be increased police presence, a review of city ordinances dealing with downtown nightlife and additional public safety measures which he declined to identify.
Authorities say 22-year-old Raekwon Moore of Winterville was stabbed to death last Saturday after he and another person got out of an SUV and started assaulting two people. Police say one of the people being attacked stabbed Moore.
On Sept. 9, officers shot and killed 24-year-old Brandon Joyner in an alley after police said he was shooting into a crowd of people. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the incident.
Blood, urine tests of chemical plant neighbors find no GenX
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – State and federal health officials found industrial compounds in the bloodstreams of people living near a North Carolina chemical plant, just not the much-debated and little-studied one they sought.
North Carolina’s health agency said Tuesday 30 people living around a Chemours Co. plant south of Fayetteville were tested, and none of them showed the chemical GenX in their blood or urine. Everyone had in their blood at least four of the 16 related chemicals tested.
Scientists don’t know how much may be unsafe.
Seven of the chemicals showed up in blood concentrations beyond 95 percent of the population tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Only one of the 17 chemicals was found in urine, and that was one person at a level almost undetectable.
Sheriff: Man shot off-duty officer, tried to ram deputies
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say a man shot an off-duty police officer and then was shot by responding deputies and troopers when he tried to ram them with his car.
Citing a release from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, news outlets report deputies received a report that an off-duty Fayetteville police officer had been shot, and found the suspect and his vehicle shortly after arriving on the scene.
Deputies and state troopers tried to talk the man into surrendering, but officials say the incident escalated. The group of officers started shooting when officials say the man tried to ram his car into them.
The unidentified suspect was hospitalized in unknown condition. The unidentified officer was hospitalized in serious condition. It’s unclear what led to the initial shooting.