AP-NC Newswatch

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September 25, 2019
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September 25, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch






Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT


Health officials: 1 dead, several sick from Legionnaires’
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Health officials in western North Carolina say one person has died from Legionnaires’ disease and several others have been sickened.
Kim Horton is a spokeswoman for the Henderson County Department of Public Health. She tells the Citizen Times one person has died from the airborne disease.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release earlier this week that it is working with the health departments in Buncombe and Henderson counties to investigate multiple cases of Legionnaires’ reported in individuals who attended a fair in Fletcher earlier in the month.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said in the news release that officials don’t know whether people were exposed to Legionella bacteria at the fair.
Legionnaires’ is a form of bacterial pneumonia. It’s a serious illness but can be treated effectively with antibiotics.


NC state park says it’s been a very active black bear season
LINVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Park officials in North Carolina are warning visitors that black bears have been active this season at a popular camping spot.
Officials at Grandfather Mountain State Park, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) northwest of Charlotte, alerted visitors last week they may need to be prepared to “back away slowly and make lots of noise” if they encounter one of the brazen bears.
Officials confirmed there’ve been multiple sightings reported this month. One recent report detailed that a bear even figured out how to get into “bear-proofed” food hung from a campsite tree.
Park officials say that once a bear associates humans with food it can become a “problem bear.” They added that as more people enjoy the state’s remote environments it can put a strain on animals that live there.


North Carolina temporarily suspends operations at 3 prisons
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina agency says it will temporarily suspend operations at three minimum custody facilities and move correctional officers and other staff to neighboring prisons to address what it calls staffing challenges.
The N.C. Department of Public Safety says in a news release on Tuesday that it’s making the move with the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice to better utilize available staff and make state prisons and communities safer.
The news release says operations will be suspended at Hoke Correctional Institution, Tyrrell Prison Work Farm and Odom Correctional Institution to deploy staff to prisons with high officer vacancy rates.
Information provided to The Associated Press in April 2018 showed North Carolina’s understaffed prisons remained dangerous for employees just months after four workers were killed in an escape attempt.


North Carolina ferry schedule set for Ocracoke storm aid
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Ferry Division is adjusting its Ocracoke ferry schedule in light of efforts to bring aid to the hurricane-ravaged island.
The N.C. Department of Transportation says that because of destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian and ongoing hurricane recovery, Hyde County Emergency Management continues to limit access to Ocracoke to residents, non-resident homeowners?? and other county-approved personnel.
Fuel delivery trucks must use the 9 a.m. Swan Quarter-Ocracoke departure to access Ocracoke and the 6 p.m. Ocracoke to Swan Quarter departure to return.
Reservations are strongly recommended for passage on the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke routes. All reservation holders must arrive at the terminal one hour before departure time. Also, same-day reservations for ferries departing Ocracoke are not available, and next-day reservations must be made before 4 p.m.


New project highlights civil rights sites in Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – A new project is highlighting some of the places in Alabama that played a role in the civil rights movement.
An online, oral history presentation called “Voices of Alabama” features photos of historic sites and interviews with some of the people who worked with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The state was a hotbed of the movement at the time.
The parsonage where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. lived in Montgomery is included. So are other places including a home in Selma where landmark demonstrations were planned, as well as churches in Birmingham that played a role in the movement.
The project features 20 sites total. It was assembled by the New York-based World Monuments Fund and the Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium.


Confidentiality over NC mapmaker’s files extended 1 month
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge has given himself more time to decide whether more computer files from a Republican mapmaker can be made public.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier agreed on Tuesday to extend until Oct. 27 a temporary confidentiality order that a three-judge panel previously issued covering nearly all of Thomas Hofeller’s documents . The documents were subpoenaed in a redistricting lawsuit and the order was to expire Friday.
Rozier was named to handle confidentiality questions because the three judges are now scrutinizing state House and Senate districts approved last week . Court filings suggest Hofeller’s files contain other information being sought by several parties. Some documents already surfaced in a federal census case.
Hofeller died last year. Redistricting lawsuit plaintiffs subpoenaed his daughter for the documents.


UNC governing board chairman resigns, citing job demands
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The chair of the governing panel for the University of North Carolina system says he’s stepping down early from his position but will remain on the board.
UNC said in a news release Tuesday that Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith of Greenville is resigning effective Oct. 1. Smith plans to remain as a board member through the end of his term in 2021.
Smith was board chairman during the controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate statue that protesters brought down in August 2018. He told the Carolina Journal in May that his view of the statue had “evolved greatly” and that it shouldn’t be returned to the Chapel Hill campus.
He tells media outlets that he’s resigning because of the overwhelming demands of being the chair while running businesses.


Judge OKs Duke University paying $54M in hiring lawsuit
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge is closing a lawsuit that Duke University is settling over claims that it and nearby University of North Carolina conspired to hold down salaries of thousands of medical workers by not hiring staff away from each other.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles on Tuesday finalized the deal in which the Durham university will divide more than $50 million among current and former employees. Their payouts will average around $6,000 depending on salary and how long they worked at Duke or UNC’s Chapel Hill campus.
Lawyers for the former Duke radiology professor who filed the class-action lawsuit are projected to be paid more than $3 million.
UNC was dropped as a defendant last year because the public institution could invoke constitutional limits on federal lawsuits against states.


AP-WF-09-25-19 1520GMT