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NORTH CAROLINA-REDISTRICTING-THE LATEST
The Latest: North Carolina Congress remap clears state House
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A redrawn map of North Carolina’s congressional districts has cleared one chamber of the state legislature.
The state House voted 55-46 on Thursday for the new boundaries and sent them on to the Senate, which could approve them Friday.
Republican legislative leaders are reworking the lines because state judges blocked the use of the current map for the 2020 elections, declaring it was likely an illegal partisan gerrymander.
Shifts in the proposed map would make it hard for Republican incumbents George Holding and Mark Walker to get reelected, giving Democrats the chance to pick up two more seats. But state House Democrats still complained about the proposal, saying all the districts are uncompetitive politically.
Republican mapmakers say the map was completed fairly and hope it will allow 2020 primary elections to occur as scheduled in March.
FATAL SHOOTING-MARINE DESERTER
Virginia police hunt Marine deserter wanted in murder case
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – Authorities have closed all the city schools in Roanoke, Virginia, and warned people to lock their doors after spotting a vehicle linked to a Marine deserter who is wanted for questioning in a murder case.
Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones said at a news conference Thursday morning that officers got a call about a suspicious person near Patrick Henry High School. The chief said a recreational vehicle Michael Alexander Brown had been driving was found nearby.
Jones said Brown is considered armed and dangerous. He may be looking for another mode of transportation or could be walking around in the area.
Brown is wanted for questioning in the death of his mother’s boyfriend, 54-year-old Rodney Brown.
Authorities say the Marine deserted his post last month at Camp Lejeune.
BUSINESS INTERSTATE 40 PROJECT
Incentives increase for contactors working on Business I-40
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina highway engineer says contractors working on the Business Interstate 40 renovation can maximize their incentives by finishing their work by Dec. 31.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports Pat Ivey, a division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said current timelines call for completing two bridges and an underpass by the end of the year or in early 2020.
Ivey said all the timelines depend on the weather cooperating but noted the cold weather the city is experiencing is not helping any plans to beat the Dec. 31 date for a maximum contractor payday.
Business 40 through downtown Winston-Salem has been closed since November 2018 for a $100 million renovation.
HOME BUYING ASSISTANCE-CHARLOTTE
‘Community heroes’ may get housing help in N Carolina county
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police officers, first responders and public school teachers will soon be eligible for home buying assistance in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
The Charlotte Observer reports the city of Charlotte has received a $500,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta to create the “Community Heroes Homeownership Program.” Charlotte will contribute $1.5 million to the program, which will be administered by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.
Workers will be eligible for up to $30,000 in down payment assistance. The leader of the bank’s community investment, economic development and affordable housing programs, Arthur Fleming, says such workers often earn too little to qualify for other home buying assistance.
Applications open Nov. 18. Homes must be in Mecklenburg County and cost no more than $250,000. Other eligibility requirements include income limits.
N Carolina transportation cash bailout OK’d by legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina legislature has agreed how to help the Department of Transportation overcome a recent cash crunch that’s already resulted in layoffs of temporary workers and paused construction.
The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for a bailout package that includes $100 million toward past and future natural disasters and forgiveness of a $90 million loan from state operating coffers approved months ago. DOT will create a new disaster fund that can be tapped after a federal emergency declaration.
DOT also can seek an additional $100 million in road-building bonds.
The cash-balance drop has been attributed to unprecedented hurricane repairs, legal settlements over rights of way and project overruns. The bill now heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk also mandates more DOT financial reporting and a state audit.
Another $180M approved for North Carolina disaster aid, prep
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Another $180 million in state funds are going to help with disaster recovery following hurricanes Matthew, Florence and Dorian and to prepare for North Carolina’s next storm.
The state House and Senate voted on Thursday for a negotiated package that also included another $20 million for a newly created rural hospital loan program.
Most of the recovery dollars meet matching requirements for federal dollars and create a state recovery program for people harmed by Dorian. There’s nearly $5 million to monitor about 1,500 dams, another $5 million for Elizabeth City State University building repairs and almost $2 million for the damaged public school on Ocracoke Island.
The bill now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper. His office criticized an unrelated provision focusing on control of monetary gifts the state receives.
GENDER NEUTRAL LEADERS
North Carolina town votes for gender neutral board name
CARRBORO, N.C. (AP) – A town in North Carolina has decided to do away with its Board of Alderman.
The name not the actual board.
News outlets report Carrboro’s aldermen decided Tuesday to rename the board “Town Council” in a town-wide effort to be more gender neutral.
Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell says some members have felt a “pinch” in being called aldermen. Haven-O’Donnell says being gender neutral matters.
Carrboro was governed by a “Board of Commissioners” from 1911 until 1969, when the town switched to a “Board of Aldermen.”
Mayor Lydia Lavelle says it’s the perfect time to switch the name since the town code is being revised to be more gender neutral.
A formal vote for the name will be on Nov. 19. If approved, the change would take effect on Dec. 3.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT-THREE KILLED
Troopers: 3 killed in fiery North Carolina traffic accident
(Information from: WFMY-TV, http://www.wfmynews2.com/)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says three people have been killed and two others injured in a fiery traffic accident.
Troopers told WFMY that a slow-moving Jeep ran off U.S. Highway 421 North after it was hit by a car, then was hit by an SUV. The second collision ignited a fire involving the Jeep and the SUV, and the three people in the Jeep were killed.
The driver of the SUV was hospitalized with what the patrol described as serious injuries, while the driver of the other car was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The identities of the three victims in the Jeep haven’t been released from Wednesday’s accident.