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August 16, 2019
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August 16, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



Earnhardt takes weekend off after plane crash near Bristol
ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his wife and daughter after the three were in a plane crash landing Thursday near Bristol Motor Speedway.
The 44-year-old television analyst and retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in east Tennessee. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.
“We’re incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today’s accident,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we’re all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.
“We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard the jet.
The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it’s sending two representatives to Elizabethton to begin investigating the crash.
Carter County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Thomas Gray confirmed Earnhardt was aboard but said he wasn’t one of the pilots.
Earnhardt retired as a full-time driver in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He is part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series event in Bristol, Tennessee.
This incident comes 26 years after former driver and 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash while on his way to the spring race at Bristol from a promotional appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee. That crash at Tri-City Regional Airport in Blountville, Tennessee, killed a total of four people.
Earnhardt was part of Rick Hendrick’s racing team in 2011 when Hendrick broke a rib and a collarbone while on a small jet that lost its brakes and crash landed in an airport at Key West, Florida. Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces were among 10 people killed in a 2004 crash of a plane traveling to a race in Virginia.
This isn’t the first fiery crash for Earnhardt. He still has a burn scar on his neck from a crash at Sonoma in 2004 during warmups for an American Le Mans Series race that left him with second-degree burns.
Earnhardt has a history of concussions that plagued him over his final years as a driver.
He won NASCAR’s most popular driver award a record 15 times with 26 career Cup victories.

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports



Authorities: School receptionist sent inappropriate photos
MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina have accused a school receptionist of sending inappropriate pictures to a student.
Citing court records, news outlets reported Thursday that 51-year-old Leigh Perkins Greene was indicted Monday on charges including attempted indecent liberties with a child by school personnel other than a teacher.
The indictment says Greene tried to take indecent liberties with a student at Patton High School in Burke County while she worked as a secretary. It says she sent obscene photos to the student through text messaging and Snapchat.
Burke County Public Schools spokeswoman Cheryl Shuffler says Greene was fired July 11. Patton principal Sara LeCroy said Greene had been sending inappropriate pictures for a “couple of months.”
Greene has a $25,000 bond. It’s not known if she has an attorney.



NC legislators supporting Medicaid expansion hold hearing
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A health policy expert and residents struggling to find affordable insurance are planned speakers for a hearing before North Carolina General Assembly members pressing for passage of Medicaid expansion this year.
Democratic Sen. Paul Lowe is leading a legislative field heading Friday at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem.
The legislature is in the middle of a state budget stalemate, and expansion is a key reason for it. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the Republican budget in large part because it lacked coverage through the 2010 federal health care law. Republicans say Cooper’s Medicaid demand is to blame for final budget delays.
A key speaker Friday will be George Washington University professor Leighton Ku, who wrote recently about the economic and employment benefits of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.



NC city to consider honoring sit-in leader with street signs
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina street in the hometown of a leader of a Greensboro sit-in leader may be designated in his honor.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports the city council next month will consider a resolution to designate North Third Street in honor of retired Maj. Gen. Joseph McNeil.
McNeil is a Wilmington native and a graduate of Williston High School. He was one of the four North Carolina A&T State University students who sat at the segregated lunch counter in Woolworth department store on Feb. 1, 1960, and refused to leave.
On Sept. 3, the council will consider a resolution calling for signs to be placed along a city-maintained portion of Third Street. The road’s name would stay the same.
A request for the portion of the street that the state maintains could be made later.



North Carolina caretaker gets prison for embezzling $330K
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for embezzling more than $330,000 from a man in her care.
News outlets report 52-year-old Teresa Denise Schneider also was sentenced Thursday to five years’ supervised release and ordered to return the stolen cash.
Court records say Schneider cared for a retired doctor from 2010 until his natural death in 2013. It says the man’s family became concerned about Schneider’s hand in the man’s finances during that time and ordered her to provide copies of his bank and credit card statements.
It says they later discovered that Schneider altered the statements to hide cash transfers to herself. It says she used the money for purchases including college tuition and travel. She pleaded to bank and mail fraud.



Novelist Sparks: Ex-school head started fires he put out
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Novelist Nicholas Sparks says problems at the private Christian school he founded in his North Carolina hometown were claiming too much of his attention before cutting ties with a headmaster four months after he started.
Sparks testified for a second day Thursday about the 2013 departure of the educator hired to head the school in New Bern, North Carolina, backed by the author of “Message in a Bottle” and “The Notebook.”
Sparks told jurors Saul Hillel Benjamin lied about his experience and job performance and caused a series of campus conflicts the author had to resolve.
Benjamin’s federal lawsuit against Sparks, his foundation and Epiphany School of Global Studies contends the educator was fired without cause, then defamed when Sparks told a job recruiter and others he suffered mental illness.



Trump nominates law professor for judicial vacancy
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump has nominated a law professor who previously worked as a prosecutor, defense attorney and journalist to fill the nation’s longest federal judiciary vacancy.
Trump nominated Richard E. Myers on Wednesday to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr had been nominated four times – twice by President George W. Bush and twice by Trump – but was blocked in the Senate over his legal work that critics say disenfranchised black voters. President Barack Obama nominated two black women for the judgeship vacant since January 2006; Republicans blocked both.
Myers was born in Jamaica. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both supporters of Farr, praised the new nominee. Burr cited Myers’ work advising the University of North Carolina’s Federalist Society chapter.



Records: Land taxes went unpaid by Rep. Meadows’ business
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Thousands of dollars in property taxes on land owned by Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows’ business went unpaid because the western North Carolina congressman says he didn’t know about the bills.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the Bertie County tax office began recording nonpayments on two parcels starting in 2013 and on a third in beginning in 2016. Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson said in a text message Tuesday that the bills of roughly $6,200 were being paid that day.
Williamson says the business called Sound Investments of WNC hadn’t paid the taxes because the notices were sent to an old address for Meadows. Bertie County is hundreds of miles from the 11th District that Meadows represents.
Meadows is a four-term congressman who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus.