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October 21, 2019
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October 21, 2019
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



North Carolina airport: Radar contact lost with small plane
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Raleigh-Durham International Airport says a small plane approaching that airport was lost on radar and the airport was briefly closed while fire and rescue units responded.
The airport says in a brief statement on its website that FAA air traffic control notified the airport that the plane was lost on radar about 7:25 p.m. Sunday near a park in the vicinity of the airport. The statement says airport firefighting units immediately were immediately dispatched to the general area, closing the airport for a brief time.
The airport statement says only that the plane was a small general aviation aircraft, and didn’t say who was aboard. It says search and rescue efforts are underway and the airport has reopened.
It didn’t give any further details immediately.



Annual North Carolina school bus safety action begins
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – State troopers will emphasize safety around school zones and buses this week during North Carolina’s annual “Operation Stop Arm” enforcement effort.
The Highway Patrol along with Department of Public Instruction and Wake County school representatives will participate in a Monday news conference at the North Carolina State Fair to talk about the initiative.
Troopers plan to aggressively enforce stop-arm and other school-related traffic violations this week. In previous years, troopers have ridden on buses and in unmarked patrol cars.
North Carolina bus drivers involved in annual one-day counting exercises routinely record more than 3,000 vehicles breaking stop-arm rules.
A 2017 law gave counties the right to impose civil penalties on motorists caught on school bus cameras passing buses that are picking up or dropping off children.



NC teacher accused of putting disabled student in trash
STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina teacher is accused of putting a disabled student in trash can.
News outlets report 51-year-old Robin Johnson was arrested Thursday on charges of misdemeanor assault on a disabled person. Iredell County deputies say a therapist reported the allegations after speaking with children who accused Johnson of putting them in trash or recycling bins during the past two school years.
A sheriff’s office statement says evidence indicates that Johnson put a disabled Cloverleaf Elementary student in a trash can at least twice.
The Iredell-Statesville School District says Johnson is suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. Reports say Johnson has worked for the district since 2008 in various roles at NB Mills Elementary, East Elementary, Pressly School and Cloverleaf Elementary.
She may appear in court Nov. 4.



North Carolina Republicans return for session likely end
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly could soon be done wrestling with legislation this year, but that doesn’t mean they’ll pin down a broad budget law or path forward on Medicaid expansion.
Lawmakers return Monday following a 10-day break. Senate leader Phil Berger says his chamber will be done with regular business by Oct. 31. House Speaker Tim Moore hasn’t committed publicly to that date, but it’s clear the end is near.
This year’s session began nine months ago and by tradition was supposed to finish in July. But a budget stalemate between Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t been resolved. GOP lawmakers lack veto-proof majorities but wouldn’t give in.
Republicans still have decisions on several other bills or vetoes unrelated to the budget before they go home.



1st federal opioid crisis trial to focus on distribution
CLEVELAND (AP) – The first federal opioid trial deals with the claims of two Ohio counties against just a half dozen companies that make and distribute drugs, but the implications could be far bigger.
Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland in a trial scheduled to last seven weeks. A last-minute settlement is still possible.
The case on lawsuits filed by Cuyahoga and Summit counties is a bellwether intended to show how legal issues might unfold in more than 2,000 other cases in federal courts.
After earlier settlements took major manufacturers such as OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma out of the trial, the case is expected to center on how drugs were distributed. A key question is whether those companies fulfilled an obligation to withhold suspicious shipments.



Rare southern bird on verge of making a comeback
(Information from: WABE-FM, http://www.wabe.org/)
FORT STEWART, Ga. (AP) – Scientists studying the red-cockaded woodpecker in Georgia forests say the rare bird is making a comeback.
WABE Radio reports that the bird was likely common long ago, but has been considered endangered in recent decades.
Habitat loss was the main challenge for the bird. It’s homes – the longleaf pine forests of the South – were rapidly disappearing.
Now, the small black and white bird could be on the verge of becoming an environmental success story in Georgia and across the South. It is doing well enough that there have been discussions about downgrading its protections.
There’s also concern that the bird isn’t ready for that.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the bird can be found in nearly a dozen states , including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas.



Police: Drunken driver hits road crew, killing 1, injuring 3
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Police say a North Carolina woman driving under the influence of alcohol crashed into a road crew over the weekend, killing one man and injuring three others.
Local media report the crew was doing construction outside a mall in Concord when the crash happened early Saturday morning.
Police said in a press release that Danyel McKenzie Middleton of Concord, who turns 22 Sunday, has been charged with felony death by vehicle and could face additional charges. She was jailed on $1 million bail pending a court appearance Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear if she had an attorney.
According to the press release, Middleton’s blood alcohol levels were above the legal limit.
Police say 50-year-old Socorro Maya Martinez of Graham was killed. Three others were taken to hospitals.



Delaware woman sentenced for crash that killed NC man
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – A Delaware woman who was driving under the influence when she caused a head-on collision that killed a North Carolina man has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
The Delaware Department of Justice announced 25-year-old Melanie Heath’s sentence Friday.
The department said in a news release that the Wilmington woman pleaded guilty in June to manslaughter, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangering, driving under the influence and speeding.
Authorities said she was driving over 90 mph in the wrong direction on a road near Middletown. The May 2018 crash killed 41-year-old Christopher Sadler of Concord.
Heath had initially faced a charge of second-degree murder.