Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
RED WOLVES-NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR
North Carolina gov: Endangered wolf protection should stay
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor is urging federal authorities not to reduce protections for endangered red wolves that can only be found in the state.
In a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper asked the agency to maintain the current five-county conservation area for the wolves.
Only about 35 red wolves remain in the wild, all in eastern North Carolina.
In June, the federal government proposed shrinking the current conservation area and lifting restrictions on shooting wolves that leave it. North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton says such changes could lead to the species’ extinction.
Cooper’s request clashes with the stance taken by North Carolina’s own Republican appointee-controlled Wildlife Resources Commission, which opposes federal red wolf recovery efforts.
MILITARY IMPERSONATOR-HELICOPTER-THE LATEST
The Latest: Man gets 6 months for impersonating general
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A judge had stern words as he sentenced a man to six months in prison for impersonating an Army general while landing a chartered helicopter at a North Carolina corporate headquarters.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle also imposed a year of supervised release for Christian Desgroux on a charge of impersonating a military officer. Desgroux, who pleaded guilty in June, will be credited for more than five months in jail since he was arrested last year.
Federal agents say Desgroux landed the helicopter last November at the corporate campus of SAS Institute, saying he was on a mission authorized by the president. Authorities say the false story was meant to impress a woman who worked there.
Boyle sharply questioned Desgroux about why he wore a general’s uniform despite never serving in the U.S. military.
The judge said: “So it was like Halloween every day of the week?”
Democrats call amendment referenda questions misleading
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The first meeting of a panel charged with explaining North Carolina constitutional amendments on November’s ballots turned into sharp critiques of the referenda when the panel’s lone Republican declined to attend.
The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission scheduled a meeting Tuesday but couldn’t take official action because only two of the three members attended. GOP member Paul Coble decided to stay away until after the General Assembly convened this weekend to decide whether to override a veto that would narrow commission duties.
The panel’s Democrats – Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Attorney General Josh Stein – still held a “work session” in which they reviewed the six amendments the Republican-controlled legislature proposed. The Democrats say some ballot questions are misleading or inaccurate when compared to what the amendments would do.
SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT
Public schools owed 750 million by state to bring lawsuit
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina school districts are set to sue for hundreds of millions of dollars a court previously ruled was owed them.
The North Carolina School Boards Association scheduled a Wednesday news conference in Durham to announce a complaint reviving a decades-long legal battle over nearly $750 million in civil penalties.
The state constitution requires certain fines and forfeitures collected by state agencies go to public schools. School boards sued the state in 1998, arguing that agencies hadn’t sent along the monetary penalties.
The case reached the state Supreme Court, and a trial judge ultimately determined in 2008 how much districts should receive. But the judge stopped short of ordering the legislature to pay up, saying it was beyond the scope of his powers to do so.
Firefighters: Man dies after falling out of tube in river
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A man who was pulled from a North Carolina river has died following what rescuers believe was a tubing accident.
Asheville Fire Department spokeswoman Kelley Klope tells news outlets in a statement that 63-year-old Lawrence Ham died Tuesday afternoon. She says the Sumter, South Carolina man had fallen out of a tube in the French Broad River.
Klope says two men who were eating lunch along the river jumped in and pulled Ham from the water. Kenny Waldron and Jacob Cabe were doing CPR when rescuers arrived. Ham was taken to a hospital but could not be revived.
She says the river was running higher and faster than usual following days of rain.
DRIVEWAY REPAIR SCAM
Man accused of duping elderly by promising driveway repairs
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina have accused a man of scamming elderly residents out of thousands of dollars for driveway repairs that were never completed.
Investigators with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office told news outlets 31-year-old Millard Fillmore Smith IV is being held in the Yadkin County jail on charges of obtaining property by false pretense and exploitation of the elderly. It’s not known if Smith has an attorney.
Durham County sheriff’s investigators said Smith used the name “Jack Tuttle” when he approached homeowners unsolicited and offered to repair their driveways. Investigators said Smith would quote a price, begin work without the homeowner’s consent and charge them even before the work was done. They Smith would then cash their checks and disappear.
BABY DEATH-HOT CAR
North Carolina parents charged after baby dies in hot car
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Two North Carolina parents have been arrested after police say a 7-month-old baby died after being left in a hot car for four hours.
Raleigh police told local news outlets 50-year-old Jume Mussa and 27-year-old Sifa Selemani are charged with negligent child abuse causing serious bodily injury.
The couple told officers they had returned home at 2 p.m. on June 8 after praying at a mosque, but no one took the baby out of the family’s minivan. Around four hours later, investigators said Mussa and Selemani were going to a store and found the baby inside the van.
Investigators also said when paramedics arrived, they told police the child had no pulse.
Mussa and Selemani are being held in the Wake County jail. It’s not known if they have attorneys.
HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL-NORTH CAROLINA
NC’s Blue Cross cutting ‘Obamacare’ prices despite changes
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s largest health insurer says it’s cutting some individual premiums for the first time in over a quarter century, but the savings on subsidized “Obamacare” coverage would have been much larger if Washington had left the law alone.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Tuesday it proposed prices to state insurance regulators that could lower rates for next year’s Affordable Care Act policies by 4.1 percent on average. About 85 percent of the savings comes from last year’s federal income tax cut and Congress suspending a tax on insurers for 2019.
Blue Cross says it could have lowered average rates by another 18 percent if Congress and the Trump Administration hadn’t eliminated the penalty for people who don’t buy health coverage and a subsidy to insurers.