Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
POLICE CHIEF ARRESTED-RETURN
N Carolina police department put on leave to return to duty
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
BOLIVIA, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina police department that was put on paid leave when its then-chief was arrested is set to return to duty.
Southport police Chief Todd Coring tells The StarNews of Wilmington that officers will be back on patrol Monday. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has been handling patrol duties since July when then-Chief Gary Lee Smith was arrested on corruption charges.
Smith and Lt. Mike Simmons are accused of working a second job with a trucking company while on duty. Smith was indicted in September on charges including felony conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses. Both were fired last month.
The entire police department was put on paid leave during a city investigation into the allegations.
Detectives investigate fire at sheriff candidate’s business
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Criminal investigators are trying to figure out why the business operated by a candidate for sheriff in the North Carolina mountains burned down.
News outlets reported that the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the fire last month that turned Shad Higgins’ tire shop into a burned-out shell. The SBI has yet to release any information about the fire or what caused it on October 26.
Higgins is the Republican candidate in a tightly contested race for sheriff of Buncombe County, which includes Asheville. Quentin Miller is the Democratic candidate. Incumbent Sheriff Van Duncan is retiring.
Higgins’ tire shop was back in business last week in a temporary location. He said weeks before the blaze that he employs three people at the business which has been operating for 15 years.
MONTH OF HATE
Synagogue attack a reminder of how common hate crimes are
The massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue occurred during a month that saw several allegations of hate crimes around the country.
The incidents were nowhere near as violent as what happened in Pittsburgh but still left their victims deeply scarred.
Kevyn Perkins stopped cold when he saw a racial slur scrawled on the door to his dorm at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. The black student considered dropping out but decided to stay in school at the urging of his family members.
The incident led to a student protest that prompted the school to cancel class for a town hall meeting discussing racial tensions on campus.
USING AAA WHILE BLACK
Police: Woman in viral rant against 2 others faces charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a white woman in North Carolina whose racist rant against two black women having car trouble in an affluent area is facing charges she communicated threats and misused the 911 network.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police tell news outlets that 51-year-old Susan Westwood was served with outstanding warrants Saturday after contacting police in coastal Sunset Beach. Westwood disappeared after the Oct. 19 incident in a parking lot of her Charlotte apartment complex.
It wasn’t immediately known if she had a lawyer who could comment for her.
Video went viral of her berating black neighbors she didn’t recognize while they waited for AAA. Leisa and Mary Garris called police twice to report Westwood was harassing them.
Westwood also called 911, telling the dispatcher she would pay $2,500 “to get them out of here,” according to authorities.
ELECTION 2018-EARLY VOTING
Record early in-person voting for N Carolina midterm ending
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – People not registered to vote in North Carolina are running out of time to sign up and participate in this year’s midterms.
Early in-person voting ends Saturday afternoon, capping an 18-day period in which people can register to vote and cast their ballots at the same time at early-voting sites in all 100 counties.
Citizens who visit an Election Day voting precinct Tuesday won’t be able to vote unless they were already registered.
A record number of people voted at early sites for a midterm this year. Along with all the traditional absentee voters, well over 1.7 million people had voted as of Friday.
North Carolina voters are choosing members of the legislature, Congress and courts, and deciding on six constitutional amendments.
Church barbecue cited as possible link for illness outbreak
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) – More than a dozen people are reporting stomach and digestive illnesses which officials think may be traced to a North Carolina church’s annual fundraising barbecue.
The health department serving Cabarrus County says it’s gotten reports of at least 13 people who got sick after they ate food Thursday at the event held by Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church in Concord. The church has hosted the late-fall event for more than 70 years.
Cabarrus Health Alliance officials say the people who reported vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps are a fraction of the thousands who ate at the church barbecue and they aren’t certain that food served there is the culprit.
Agency Chief Operating Officer Erin Shoe is urging anyone who brought home leftovers to throw it out.
Aid group flies supplies to typhoon-struck Pacific islands
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina-based relief organization is flying tons of emergency supplies to a U.S. island territory in the Pacific Ocean struggling to recover from a massive typhoon late last month.
Samaritan’s Purse says a DC-8 jet left Greensboro on Sunday for the Northern Marianas island of Saipan, almost 8,000 miles (about 12,800 kilometers) west.
The Boone-based charity says the emergency shelter materials, household water filtration units, solar lights and medical supplies should arrive in Saipan on Tuesday. Samaritan’s Purse is also sending a mobile medical team.
Saipan and the nearby island of Tinian are recovering from Super Typhoon Yutu, the strongest storm to hit any part of the U.S. this year. Residents of Tinian say most of the homes on the island were destroyed by a direct hit from Yutu.
Former North Carolina Gov. Perdue leading testing board
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s first female governor is taking another trailblazing role as head of a board that oversees standardized tests designed to measure student achievement across the country.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Friday that former Gov. Beverly Perdue is now chair of the National Assessment Governing Board. Perdue is identified as the first woman to chair the board in its 30-year history.
The nonpartisan board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Representative samples taking the tests nationwide allow states to compare themselves on academic performance.
Perdue is a former school teacher, Democratic legislator and lieutenant governor who was elected governor in 2008. She declined to seek a second gubernatorial term. Since leaving office, Perdue founded an education technology nonprofit. She joined the board last year.