Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Marine tied to Charlottesville violence booted from service
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) – A U.S. Marine identified as a member of a white supremacist group involved in violence during last summer’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is out of the military after being convicted at a court-martial.
The Daily News of Jacksonville, North Carolina, reports Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis was kicked out of the Marine Corps last month after serving a jail sentence at Camp Lejeune. Marine Corps Headquarters spokesman Maj. Brian Block said membership in extremist or hate groups violates core values.
Pistolis did not return a telephone message Sunday seeking comment. Marine Corps spokesmen with not respond to emailed messages on Saturday.
ProPublica and Frontline PBS reported in May that Pistolis was a member of a neo-Nazi group and bragged about violence he committed in Charlottesville in August 2017.
Activists float dialogue over hog farm nuisance lawsuits
(Information from: The Herald-Sun, http://www.herald-sun.com)
WARSAW, N.C. (AP) – Activists in the heart of North Carolina’s pork country say contract hog farmers and their neighbors should start talking about solutions.
The Herald-Sun of Durham reported that community organizers in Duplin County called for dialogue Saturday after a federal jury again decided pork giant Smithfield Foods is responsible for millions in damages linked to industrial-scale hog operations.
The NC Environmental Justice Network’s Naeema Muhammad says the company pits farmers who raise its hogs under contract against people living nearby. She says neighbors just want to escape the stench of open-air waste pits while farmers want to protect the lifestyle they’ve built.
Jurors on Friday hit Smithfield Foods with a $473 million verdict over how Pender County farms operated. Juries in two earlier cases awarded more than $75 million.
Rain may explain more bears raiding NC picnic baskets, trash
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – This summer’s persistent, heavy rains may be the reason behind increased bear sightings in the North Carolina mountains.
The Charlotte Observer reports North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Mike Carraway says pounding rains that have flooded parts of the mountains in recent weeks have delayed berries and other bear food from ripening.
Bears searching neighborhoods for food inside cars and trash bins have been captured on video and shared on social media.
Carraway says growing populations also may explain the close contacts between bears and people.
He says western North Carolina’s bear population has increased for 25 to 30 years and now numbers about 6,000 to 8,000. The region’s human population has increased sharply during the same period.
LEMONADE STAND STICKUP
Deputies seek armed teen who held up boy’s lemonade stand
MONROE, N.C. (AP) – Deputies in North Carolina say they’re seeking a teenager who robbed a 9-year-old’s lemonade stand at gunpoint.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that the stickup happened near a traffic roundabout in Monroe, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Charlotte.
Deputies say the young drink vendor reported that a male teenager with a camouflage hat and black shirt placed a black handgun to the boy’s stomach Saturday, demanded money and then fled on foot.
Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Underwood tells The Charlotte Observer less than $20 in cash was stolen.
Authorities found a camouflage hat, a black BB handgun and a stolen metal tin in some nearby woods. Deputies believe the suspect left a bicycle in the brush for his getaway.
Salisbury Post reduces print schedule amid newsprint tariffs
(Information from: Salisbury Post, http://www.salisburypost.com)
SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) – Amid rising costs associated with new tariffs, a North Carolina community newspaper has announced a reduction in its print schedule.
The Salisbury Post will print five days a week starting Aug. 11, ceasing print publication on Mondays and Saturdays. The newspaper says its Monday and Saturday print editions were its least profitable.
Post Publisher Greg Anderson says the changes will allow staffers “to focus on producing a quality community print newspaper on the days readers and advertisers have shown matter to them most.” He’s also signaled a shift in focus to digital products.
The newspaper says it has experienced a nearly 30 percent increase in materials cost, and newsprint prices are expected to keep increasing. Tariffs have also affected the price of aluminum plates used to print the paper.
North Carolina board weighs early-vote plans in 15 counties
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The panel that oversees administration of North Carolina’s elections is settling disagreements in 15 counties about where and when early voting sites should open this fall.
The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement set aside several hours Sunday to consider competing plans by Democrats and Republicans in each county and then make final decisions.
County elections boards must approve early-voting schedules unanimously, or the state board steps in. Counties that failed to reach agreements include Wake, Buncombe, Pitt and Durham.
A new law requires more uniform opening and closing times for early-voting sites statewide, including sites open on weekends in counties.
The board is meeting in Winston-Salem because county election officials are gathering there this week for training.
Cooper plans to sue to keep 2 amendment questions off ballot
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper contends ballot language approved by Republican lawmakers describing two proposed constitutional amendments are so false and misleading the courts must prevent voting on them.
Cooper’s office announced Saturday he would sue Monday in Wake County court to block two of the six amendment referendums set for this fall’s ballots. Public disclosure of the litigation came hours after the General Assembly overrode Cooper’s veto of a measure taking from a state panel the job of writing titles for the six questions.
Cooper targets amendments that would shift powers from the executive branch to the legislature on filling judicial vacancies and appointing members of the state elections board and other commissions.
State election officials have said ballots need to be finalized by this coming week.
Company paid less than half initial fine for fatal accident
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A company is paying less than half the fine workplace safety officials assessed for a North Carolina construction accident that killed three workers and badly injured a fourth.
News organizations reported the deadly 2015 scaffolding accident at a downtown Raleigh building led to Associated Scaffolding paying $70,000 and promising new safety precautions. Investigators initially assessed almost $152,000 for serious violations.
Associated Scaffolding challenged the penalty and the state Labor Department reduced it. Two other companies were fined $4,200 each for shortcomings that led to the workers falling several stories after a scaffold collapsed.
Department spokeswoman Mary Katherine Revels says the fines have been paid.
The families of the four victims filed a lawsuit against several companies that were part of the construction project.