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North Carolina Blue Cross CEO resigns after DWI charge
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The chief executive officer of Blue Cross North Carolina has resigned amid pressure from the state’s top insurance regulator after the executive’s DWI charge.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said in a statement late Wednesday that the health insurer’s board requested and received Dr. Patrick Conway’s resignation. It came hours after the state’s insurance commissioner asked him to step down .
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said he’d learned of Conway’s arrest from a news report. Causey accused Blue Cross of trying to conceal what happened.
Court records show Conway was charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse following a June 22 crash. No one was injured, but Conway’s two daughters were in the car. He has a hearing next month.
Conway issued a statement saying he’s sorry and ashamed about what happened.
Nearly half of North Carolina counties in moderate drought
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials say nearly half of North Carolina’s counties are experiencing a moderate drought due to lack of rainfall.
Klaus Albertin is chairman of the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council . He said in a news release issued by the Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday that water supplies, agriculture, fire threat and streamflows statewide are beginning to reflect the lack of precipitation.
Forty-five counties in the western and central parts of the state are in moderate drought stage, the least detrimental of four categories used in federal drought maps.
Twenty-two counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions, which means a drought could emerge without adequate rainfall.
Albertin says while Hurricane Dorian left heavy rainfall along the coast, almost none fell west of Interstate 95. He says conditions could worsen before they improve.
NAACP women to demand action on sexual harassment
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Women from the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP are traveling to the organization’s national headquarters in Baltimore to demand the removal of a member who they say harassed a former employee.
Ana Ilarraza-Blackburn says the group will leave Greensboro on Thursday and pick up members in Durham before going to the national headquarters to demand the removal of the Rev. Curtis Gatewood. A former employee of the state chapter, Jazmyne Childs, said at a news conference Wednesday that Gatewood sexually harassed her.
Gatewood says he never sexually harassed anyone.
Ilarraza-Blackburn is the Latino immigrant liaison for the state chapter. She says no one at the national office responded to the women’s letters so they’re going to Baltimore.
Gatewood is running for president of the state chapter, challenging the incumbent. The election is Oct. 5.
U of North Carolina’s interim president to keep role for now
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – The interim president of the University of North Carolina system will stay in the role for now.
News outlets report Bill Roper announced Wednesday that he isn’t seeking the position permanently, but will stay in it through June 2020.
Roper said in a statement that the time frame will give him a chance to reach the goals he laid out when he took on the interim position in January. Roper succeeded Margaret Spellings, who left the $775,000-per-year role in December 2018 after fulfilling just over half of her five-year contract.
Roper also said the clear time frame will give the school system time to plan for the next successor. Roper’s announcement comes just after the chairman of the system’s Board of Governors resigned , citing job demands.
N Carolina sheriff charges woman taped leaving baby in car
(Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says it’s charged a woman who was captured in a video leaving a 9-month-old baby unattended in a car at a junkyard.
News outlets report that investigators say they’ve identified 35-year-old Jennifer Shipman from the video and charged her with misdemeanor child abuse.
Sheriff’s officials say witness Macon Jones discovered the child in a Clayton parking lot this week. In the video obtained by WRAL one of the car windows can be seen slightly rolled down with the child strapped into a car seat inside.
In the video, Shipman tells Jones she had a battery with acid on it and didn’t want to touch the child. He tells her she should’ve waited until she had help and she responds: “you don’t know anything.”
Audit questions ag department hotel expenses during NC fair
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – An audit says North Carolina government budget rules were broken when taxpayer funds paid for Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and two of his top lieutenants to stay in Raleigh during the annual State Fair.
The report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office released on Wednesday says Troxler, his chief of staff and the fair manager incurred $22,000 in hotel rooms, meals and other expenses over five years.
All three of them live at least 60 miles from Raleigh, and Troxler’s chief deputy says he signed off on the expenses because it’s critical fair leaders are close by during the 11-day event. But auditors say there’s no exception for that in the budget rules.
The state budget director, however, granted a waiver last month for the Agriculture Department going forward.
Spill reported from North Carolina chemical company site
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A spill at a chemical company industrial site in North Carolina prompted three water providers to issue alerts and suspend drawing water from the Cape Fear River to prevent their supplies from being tainted.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports the approximately 30-gallon (113-liter) spill came from Kuraray Americas, one of three tenants at the Chemours-managed site about 100 miles (160 kilometers) upstream of Wilmington.
Although quickly contained, the utilities shut down the intakes on Wednesday, in part to prevent contamination of their supplies.
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality says it’s investigating the extent and cause of the spill. A Kuraray Americas spokesperson said in a news release that the spill resulted from the escape of a plasticizer used in making windshields into a storm drain uncovered during construction.
17 states sue feds over Endangered Species Act lawsuit
SEATTLE (AP) – Seventeen states are suing to block Trump administration rules weakening the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, follows a similar challenge filed last month by several environmental groups, including the Humane Society and the Sierra Club.
The new rules begin taking effect Thursday. They for the first time allow officials to consider how much it would cost to save a species. They also remove blanket protections for animals newly listed as threatened and make it easier for creatures to be removed from the protected list.
The administration and congressional Republicans have said the changes improve the law. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said they ease “the regulatory burden on the American public” without sacrificing conservation goals.
Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson called it “death by a thousand cuts” for the law.