Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
HURRICANE RECOVERY-FUNDING DELAYS
Hurricane victims frustrated with slow housing recovery
SPRING LAKE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina hurricane survivors are frustrated with the slow spending of federal long-term housing recovery funds.
A May report from the General Assembly’s government watchdog agency showed that federal housing funds for Hurricane Matthew victims were delayed due to administrative mistakes and inexperience. As of July, over two years since Matthew made landfall, North Carolina had spent about 6% of those funds.
The federal recovery funds for Florence still need to undergo a lengthy process before the state receives them. As displaced Florence survivors wait for these funds, some are working on their homes themselves with the help of volunteer organizations. But, those repairs are not complete fixes to the home, meaning that homes could be more vulnerable in future storms. Many homes are still awaiting repairs.
Police in NC city turn spotlight on cold case homicides
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in a North Carolina city have begun monthly news conferences to raise awareness of the approximately 250 cold cases involving homicides dating back to the 1950s.
The Herald-Sun of Durham reports Durham police have set up a cold case website and a phone number for people to report information.
The first news conference was held Tuesday, when police focused on the murder of Cesar Yanez-Ortiz on Nov. 29, 2016. Yanez-Ortiz was shot just outside his front door as he and his 12-year-old stepson unloaded groceries.
Sgt. J.D. Piatt says Durham averages about three dozen homicides a year. In most cases, police have suspects or good leads, but Piatt says they lack enough information to bring charges.
NC woman indicted on manslaughter charge in overdose death
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman has been indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a man who overdosed on heroin.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports 29-year-old Kelsea Jewel Harris also was indicted Monday of charges including obstruction of justice and delivery of heroin. She’s accused of selling 56-year-old Kevin Paul Flaherty the heroin that led to his 2017 death .
She’s also accused of not providing any medical aid once Flaherty passed out. The indictments say Harris also tried to impede and mislead authorities by removing drug paraphernalia from the scene and covering up Flaherty to make it seem like he was sleeping.
Harris is set to appear in court Aug. 5.
OPIOID CRISIS PRESENTATION
N Carolina police official to discuss opioids in Washington
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina deputy police chief is traveling to Washington, D.C., to discuss the opioid crisis with U.S. House lawmakers.
The Greensboro Police Department said in a news release that Deputy Chief J.E. Hinson will be part of a presentation on Thursday morning about the opioid crisis and how law enforcement agencies are dealing with it.
The discussion will be during a special hearing before lawmakers entitled “Homeland Security Implications and the Opioid Crisis.”
The department says it has equipped all patrol officers with Narcan to treat opioid overdoses. The department also uses community meetings, social media outreach and allows people to dispose of prescription drugs at its locations.
Other speakers at the event Thursday include a prosecutor from New York and a researcher.
Fed aid to help Maine, 9 other states improve workforce data
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Maine is one of 10 states that are receiving federal grants designed to improve the quality of data about the workforce.
Maine, like most of the states, is receiving about $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor. The department says the money will help the states build and improve databases that contain information about training programs and employment services. The databases also allow for collection of information about participants in those programs.
The department says the databases will allow states such as Maine “to conduct research and analysis aimed at determining the effectiveness of workforce and educational programs.”
The other states receiving grants are California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin.
SMOKABLE HEMP BAN
Farmers, police spar over North Carolina smokable hemp ban
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Burgeoning sales of a new crop that could help North Carolina farmers still transitioning away from once-profitable tobacco are facing complaints from law enforcement officials that smokable hemp makes it harder to enforce marijuana laws.
Farmers faced off Wednesday with police and prosecutors over legislation that would ban smokable hemp after next year’s elections. A state House committee approved the measure, which delays the proposed ban for a year in hopes that tests will be developed that better distinguish legal hemp from illegal marijuana.
Fred Baggett of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police says the plants are too similar for street officers to tell the difference.
The compound CBD in hemp is believed to help with pain, anxiety and inflammation, though there’s limited scientific research supporting those claims.
Organs of man who died at NC beach donated to save dozens
OAK ISLAND, N.C. (AP) – The family of a man killed in a freak beach accident says his organs are being donated to save the lives of dozens of people.
Lee Dingle’s parents told WSOC that his organs will be donated to 55 people in all.
Lee Dingle’s wife, Shannon Dingle, said on Twitter she had no doubt Lee Dingle would want his organs donated. She said the decision was difficult, but she “had an extra reason to say yes,” as donor tissue was used to reconstruct her knee ligaments in 2017.
Lee Dingle was killed while swimming off the North Carolina coast when a wave crashed into him, slamming his head into the sand and breaking his neck. Shannon Dingle said her husband was playing in the water with several of their six children.
SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWSUIT
Sexual assault victims file suit against NC school district
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – The victims of sexual assaults by a former North Carolina teacher are filing a class action lawsuit against the school district.
News outlets report the victims of Michael Kelly filed the complaint Tuesday against him, the New Hanover County Board of Education and others.
Kelly pleaded guilty last month to child sex charges. Investigators say Kelly abused nearly 20 victims. He’s worked for New Hanover Schools since 1992.
Attorney Jim Lea says they’re seeking compensation for victims, better safety procedures for students and major leadership changes among administrators.
New Hanover District Attorney Ben David said Kelly told investigators the school looked into allegations of his behavior, but cleared him.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into claims that the administration knew about Kelly’s action but failed to report them.