Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
Ex-director of historic school charged with embezzling $175k
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have charged the former executive director of a school with embezzling nearly $175,000 from the Civil War-era site.
Ronda Tucker, of Hillsborough, is accused of spending the money at restaurants, veterinary offices, airlines, Walmart, Target, Amazon, nail salons and pet stores.
The Herald-Sun reports that Tucker was fired from the Burwell School in June.
Hillsborough Historic Commission Chairman Brooks Graebner said the school didn’t put Tucker through the usual background check when she was first hired in 2016 because her job as a guide did not include financial responsibilities. Graebner said Tucker was given more responsibility over time.
The school was built in the 1800s. It now preserves the history of the town, the school and the enslaved and free people of color who worked there.
Legionnaires’ disease found in person who didn’t attend fair
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Public health officials in North Carolina are reporting a case of Legionnaires’ disease in a person who didn’t attend the Mountain State Fair, but was at a building on the fair site.
The state’s Health and Human Services Department reports the person attended the Quilt Show at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in late September. To date, it’s the only case of Legionnaires’ disease in an individual who didn’t attend the fair, but was at the WNC Ag Center after it ended on Sept. 15.
Health officials visited the WNC Ag Center Sept. 25 and 27 and didn’t identify any sources of aerosolized water. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services suspended rental of the Davis Event Center after Legionella bacteria were found in one of six samples.
Cooper declaration to aid NC people hurt most by Dorian
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper’s disaster declaration for more than a dozen eastern North Carolina counties following Hurricane Dorian means individuals harmed most by the winds and flooding can get financial help from state government.
Cooper’s declaration on Thursday is meant to target people living in Carteret, Dare, Hyde and New Hanover counties, which took the brunt of last month’s storm. But the federal government declined last week to issue a federal declaration for individual assistance in those counties, saying there wasn’t enough damage to warrant one.
The U.S. Small Business Administration did authorize low-interest disaster loans in the four counties and those surrounding them. So now, Cooper authorized a state grant program created for people who are denied the SBA loans or have damages not covered by insurance.
FATAL HELICOPTER CRASH
Sheriff: At least 1 dead in North Carolina helicopter crash
NEW SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say at least one person died when a helicopter crashed while spraying a field in North Carolina.
News outlets quote the Union County Sheriff’s Office as saying the helicopter appears to have become entangled in a power line while spraying the field near New Salem on Thursday. The community of New Salem is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Charlotte.
Authorities didn’t immediately release the identity of the person who died or provide further detail about the crash. It’s unclear how many people were in the helicopter.
Device to be tested in N Carolina could save rare sharks
NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) – A fisherman on the North Carolina coast will test a device next summer that could help save rare sharks.
The Virginian-Pilot reports the waterproof gadget would be connected just above the hooks on a long line used for commercial harvesting of species such as tuna and swordfish. It would emit an electric pulse that drives sharks away from the baited hook.
Outer Banks fisherman Charlie Locke says he will run his 32-foot (10-meter) boat in federal waters about four miles (six kilometers) off Hatteras and Oregon inlets for 10 days beginning in August 2020. He will pull a three-mile (five-kilometer) long line with 150 baited hooks. Half will have the repelling device and half will not. He says that if the device works, it could benefit fisheries around the world.
TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Tropical storm strengthens on approach to US
MIAMI (AP) – Weather forecasters say a storm system is strengthening as it moves toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said dangerous storm surge, heavy rain, and high winds were likely to reach portions of the northern Gulf Coast starting later Friday and lasting into the weekend.
Forecasters said at 11 a.m. that the system was about 230 miles (365 kilometers) south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 22 mph (35 kph).
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama line to Yankeetown, Florida, and from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River. That means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide could result in normally dry coastal areas flooding.
A weather disturbance moving toward the Southern United States with heavy rain and wind is expected to become a tropical storm Friday as it nears the Gulf Coast, forecasters said.
The disturbance, which would be named Nestor, should bring a wet weekend across much of the drought-parched Southeast, where some events were being canceled and officials were trying to calm fears of a hard hit.
Forecasters said the system was about 390 miles (630 kilometers) south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It had top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 14 mph (22 kph).
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama line to Yankeetown, Florida, and from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River.
Forecasters expect blustery winds and heavy rain in parts of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, reaching the Carolinas and Virginia by Sunday.
In New Orleans crews were preparing to explode two badly damaged construction cranes that are towering over a partially collapsed hotel project at the edge of the French Quarter. They planned to bring the cranes down Friday just ahead of winds that could cause them to tumble out of control.
High schools from Alabama to the eastern Florida Panhandle canceled or postponed football games scheduled for Friday night, and officials in Panama City tried to assure residents that the storm wouldn’t be a repeat of Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year.
“We are optimistic this will be a slight wind and rain event,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford.
The system could dump from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain from the central Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas, where many areas are dried out from weeks without rain, and as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) in spots, forecasters said.
Seawater pushed inland by the storm could rise as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) as storm surge in Florida’s Big Bend region, much of which is less-developed than the rest of the state’s coast.
Autopsy shows judge died of fentanyl, heroin overdose
(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – An autopsy report shows a North Carolina judge died of a fentanyl and heroin overdose.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports District Court Judge Tom Jarrell was found unresponsive on the bedroom floor of his home in High Point on Aug. 3.
The report from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also says the 56-year-old Jarrell had alcohol in his system.
According to the report, Jarrell had a medical history with an irregular heartbeat, but police found a plastic bag with a powdered substance in his pocket. The autopsy found that there was a possible needle puncture in his right arm with dried blood. Also, the report said police found a pocketknife and a piece of paper containing a powdered substance in his bathroom.
North Carolina officials emphasize voting security efforts
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina elections and government security officials want to know they’ve got the backs of voters concerned about the integrity of casting and counting ballots today and entering the 2020 elections.
The State Board of Elections on Thursday unveiled the start of a “voter confidence campaign.” It will rely heavily on social media to get the word out about efforts and procedures already in place to protect free elections from hacking and other interference.
A U.S. Senate committee’s report released this summer found that the Russian government directed “extensive activity” against U.S. election systems ahead of the 2016 election.
A 2018 North Carolina congressional election also had to be redone this year, as last November’s results were invalidated following absentee voting fraud allegations.