AP-NC Newswatch

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August 29, 2019
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August 29, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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



Man pleads guilty to punching girl, 11, at N. Carolina mall
ASHVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A 51-year-old white man has pleaded guilty to assaulting two young black girls and will have to participate in a racial justice workshop along with anger management counseling.
News outlets report David Steven Bell pleaded guilty Monday to two different misdemeanor assault charges for striking an 11-year-old and pushing 13-year-old. An additional assault charge was dismissed.
A viral video shows Bell pushing an 11-year-old girl then punching her in the face at Ashville Mall in January. An incident report describes Bell as 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds (113.4 kilograms).
Two 13-year-olds told authorities Bell also pushed them.
Bell’s attorney Andy Banzhoff said Bell felt threatened and regrets using physical force. Banzhoff did not say why Bell felt threatened. He was also sentenced to 12-months of unsupervised probation and a “60 day suspended sentence.”
It’s unclear what caused the altercation.



The Latest: N Carolina House rivals agree gun laws need look
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The two main candidates in the country’s only still-undecided congressional district are debating how to tackle gun violence.
Democrat Dan McCready and Republican Dan Bishop agreed Wednesday night that action is needed to tackle mass shootings across the country, including one at Charlotte’s public university campus in April that killed two and wounded four.
Bishop says he doesn’t rule out prohibiting some deadly weapons and is willing to at least debate red-flag laws. Those laws allow police and family who see potential deadly trouble to ask a judge to temporarily order a person’s guns confiscated.
McCready said he “absolutely” wants red-flag laws. He says he also would require everyone who buys guns to undergo background checks, eliminating a loophole that requires the checks for purchases at stores but not private sales.



Bill carrying out approved victims’ rights amendment OK’d
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The General Assembly has agreed to legislation that carries out a new amendment to North Carolina’s constitution expanding rights of crime victims.
The Senate agreed unanimously on Wednesday to changes made by the House in the measure, which provides details to implement the amendment also known as “Marsy’s Law.”
Last year, voters approved the amendment that gives crime victims a right to updates on court proceedings and to be notified if the person accused of the crime is released from custody. This year’s measure lays out which additional crimes trigger those rights and the process by which a victim can assert those rights.
While putting the proposed amendment on the ballot wasn’t subject to the gubernatorial veto, the implementing legislation does go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.



High-voltage women wanted; must enjoy breaking ground
SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (AP) – High-voltage work can make sense for women seeking a trade where they can earn good salaries and equal pay.
And the jobs aren’t hard to come by as experienced lineworkers grow older and retire. The nation’s power grid also is aging, requiring a constant stream of work by electric companies nationwide.
With overtime, salaries can easily soar into the six-figure range.
But Jordan Demartino is like a unicorn scaling the power poles: she’s one of only five women among 2,500 Duke Energy line workers. She’s a proven team member after two years on the job, and she says she went through everything the guys went through to get there – no one took it easy on her.



North Carolina student charged with bringing guns on campus
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina university student has been arrested on charges of bringing guns on campus and threatening mass violence.
The High Point Police Department said in a statement officers responded Tuesday to reports of a student with two firearms in a High Point University dorm. University officials say another student reported him.
The police news release says 19-year-old Paul A. Steber, a freshman from Boston, was charged with two felony counts of having a gun on campus and a charge of making threats of mass violence.
High Point University issued a statement saying there was no immediate campus threat. No one was hurt.
Police say the case shows the importance of reporting suspicious activity to prevent violence.
Police didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether Steber has an attorney.



TVA backlash grows as coal ash spill workers fall sick
KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) – A backlash is growing from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s handling of the nation’s largest coal ash spill a decade ago. Workers said they were prohibited from wearing dust masks while cleaning up the ash and now suffer from cancers and lung diseases.
The TVA contractor Jacobs Engineering denied their claims, saying the cleanup posed no health hazard. A Knoxville jury sided with the workers, deciding last year that Jacobs had breached its duty to keep them safe. But to get any money, the workers still have to prove their exposure to the coal ash made them sick.
The public utility maintains that its contractor alone was responsible for any issues, but it’s the reputation of the TVA that’s at stake.



State worker raises get final approval by NC legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly has sent four state employee and law enforcement pay bills to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
The measures finalized on Wednesday with House votes are part of a Republican strategy to move portions of the two-year state budget Cooper vetoed in June that are likely to receive broad stand-alone support. Those bills cleared the Senate and the House unanimously.
Cooper hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the legislation, which gives 2.5% annual raises to rank-and-file state employees, troopers, correctional officers and State Bureau of Investigation agents. Correctional officers also would get pay incentives for working in certain prisons.
House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger say the legislature will take next week off, then return to move other chunks of the vetoed budget.



Latest: Vigil held after Virginia triple slaying
KEELING, Va. (AP) – Prayer, song and scripture marked the vigil held in memory of three slain relatives of minor league baseball pitcher Blake Bivens.
The vigil was held at The River Church in Danville, Virginia, on Wednesday night. Approximately 50 people scattered among the pews at the church as senior pastor Jackie Poe led those in attendance in prayer for the Bivens and Bernard families.
Poe summoned people to the steps of the altar, and while some people dabbed the tears from their eyes, sniffles and sobs were also audible.
The vigil was held hours after a news conference where Pittsylvania County Sheriff Michael Taylor discussed some of the details of the Tuesday killings. Matthew Thomas Bernard, the 18-year-old brother-in-law of Blake Bivens, is charged in the deaths of Bivens’ wife, the couple’s toddler son, and Bivens’ mother-in-law.