Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
BARRY MANILOW CONTEST
Barry Manilow gifts North Carolina high school $100,000
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Barry Manilow gifted $100,000 worth of new band gear to a North Carolina high school in an area still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
News outlets report the band at East Duplin High School couldn’t afford new instruments and uniforms, so they entered a national contest by the Manilow Music Project for help.
In a video of the announcement at a Las Vegas show Wednesday, Manilow takes a pause from dancing and singing to crown East Duplin as the winner.
Manilow said he had been “bombarded” with video entries from high schools across the country saying why they think they deserved the funds before giving East Duplin the $100,000 for new instruments and uniforms.
The school’s band director says words can’t describe his gratitude.
COOKING OIL HEISTS
Prosecutor: Theft ring took $4 million in used cooking oil
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Federal agents say they’ve mopped up a theft ring involving 21 co-conspirators, responsible for stealing a precious commodity: $3.9 million worth of used cooking oil known as “yellow grease.”
A federal indictment unsealed Thursday says the thieves targeted eateries in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia for five years, pumping used oil from restaurant storage tanks into trucks for shipment around the country.
This oil is greasy gold for biodiesel companies. U.S. Agriculture Department data show a 100-pound load of “yellow grease” is worth $25.
A statement from U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. says the oil rendering industry loses between $45 million and $75 million to oil theft each year.
The suspects face conspiracy and money laundering charges that carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.
COAL POWER PLANTS-COOPER
Cooper has ‘deep concern’ over Clean Power Plan replacement
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says he’s against the decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to replace rules that sought to limit coal-fired plants in the nation’s electrical grid and their emissions.
Cooper’s office says the Democratic governor has “deep concern” over the Environmental Protection Agency’s action to eliminate the Clean Power Plan championed by then-President Barack Obama. The rule signed Wednesday gives states more leeway deciding whether to require plants to make limited efficiency upgrades.
Cooper said in a news release the rollback could allow coal-fired plants to pollute more.
The governor has been pressing for lower greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy industry expansion in the state. He signed an executive order last year that aims to reduce emissions statewide and make state government more energy-smart.
Korean War soldier’s remains return home, 60 years later
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina soldier who was declared dead in the Korean War more than 60 years ago will be remembered in a ceremony at the State Capitol.
Pfc. William Hoover Jones will lie in honor on Friday. Gov. Roy Cooper will lay a wreath in his memory and present his family with the U.S. and North Carolina flags flown over the State Capitol. Both flags will fly at half-staff from sunup to sundown on Friday.
Jones was a 19-year-old native of Red Oak who was reported missing in action in North Korea on Nov. 26, 1950. The Army declared him dead on Dec. 31, 1953.
Jones was identified after North Korea last year turned over 55 boxes containing remains of U.S. service members killed during the war to the U.S.
ELECTION 2019-NORTH CAROLINA-3RD DISTRICT
NC Rep. Jones’ widow provides support to GOP hopeful Perry
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The widow of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. is providing support to a pediatrician in a Republican runoff seeking to succeed him in his eastern North Carolina seat.
Joe Anne Jones praised 3rd Congressional District candidate Joan Perry at a news conference on Thursday. Jones stopped short of a formal endorsement but said Perry’s integrity and faith aligned with those of her husband, who died in February.
Her comments come as Perry runoff rival physician Greg Murphy and his campaign have said Jones had told him that he wanted Murphy to fill his seat in 2020.
While Joe Anne Jones says she’s grateful for Murphy as her husband’s surgeon, “that doesn’t have anything to do with politics.”
The July 9 runoff winner advances to the September general election.
Minimum-size North Carolina catch rules narrowly clear House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s significant commercial and recreational marine fish species all would be subject to minimum-length catch thresholds in legislation that cleared one General Assembly chamber.
Thursday’s 58-47 House vote didn’t fall along party lines, as members were split on whether such restrictions would revive or decimate further declining fish stocks.
A 1997 law required state regulators to adopt fisheries management plans to discourage overfishing, but proposal supporters questioned their effectiveness. Bill sponsor Rep. Larry Yarborough of Person County called the minimum-size requirement a common-sense way to ensure more fish mature and reproduce.
But Rep. Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County said there’s no proof the idea will work. Other opponents say the legislation – now heading to the Senate – is another step toward eliminating gill-net use by commercial fisherman.
SEVERE WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: 1 killed by fallen tree amid Southeast storms
ATLANTA (AP) – Officials in South Carolina say a person has been killed by a fallen tree amid heavy winds sweeping across the Southeast.
News outlets report that Richland County Coroner Gary Watts confirmed the death occurred Thursday afternoon in Columbia. Officials did not release further details about the victim.
A wind gust of 79 mph (127 kph) was recorded in Columbia, as high winds produced dozens of reports of trees down in the Carolinas.
Utilities reported more than 200,000 customers without power Thursday evening across Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
In budget talks, Moore takes hard line against NC expansion
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – House Speaker Tim Moore is talking a hard line opposing Medicaid expansion as Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper presses for it during pending North Carolina budget negotiations.
The Cleveland County Republican told reporters on Thursday that “we’ve been very upfront from the very beginning that we’re not going to vote to expand Medicaid.” Senate Republicans already are adamantly opposed to the idea.
Cooper hasn’t said publicly if he’d veto a two-year budget that lacks expansion. Still, Moore says the governor is sending the message he won’t sign one without it.
GOP legislators could finalize a budget on their own without Cooper and approve it as soon as next week.
If Cooper vetoes it and Republicans can’t override him, a stalemate is possible extending into the new fiscal year beginning July 1.