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April 20, 2018
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT





4 dead, 2 children hurt in western North Carolina shooting

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Officials now say four people have died and three people were hurt in a shooting in western North Carolina.
Asheville police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse said in a news release Thursday that the suspected gunman is among the dead. Hallingse says it appears Maurice Laron Garner shot and killed himself.
The spokeswoman said 32-year-old Erica Nichelle Smith was found dead at the home around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Asheville City Schools spokeswoman Ashley-Michelle Thublin told local media that four students were injured. Two of them have died. Their names have not been released.
The names and conditions of those being treated at Mission Hospital in Asheville have not been released.
Police have not said what sparked the shooting. Police Chief Tammy Hooper planned to release more information later Thursday.





Gates for North Carolina primary voting open wider Thursday

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The gates are opening wider for North Carolina voters to cast ballots for next month’s primary elections.
Early one-stop voting begins Thursday with at least one site open in each of the state’s 100 counties. Nearly 300 sites will operate during the 17-day period that ends May 5. People at early-voting sites can also register to vote and cast ballots at the same time.
The actual primary election is May 8, but there’s no “same-day registration” that day.
Before early voting began, registered voters could cast traditional mail-in absentee ballots.
There are no statewide races on the primary ballot. There are 18 congressional primary races, nearly 80 legislative races and scores of local positions.
Registered Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans can only vote in their party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters have options.





North Carolina college interim president to start May 1

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A college in North Carolina has selected an interim president to take over May 1.
Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem said in a news release Wednesday that Sandra J. Doran will lead the women’s liberal arts school while a nationwide search is conducted for a permanent president.
Salem President Lorraine Sterritt announced her resignation in January and has accepted a position as president of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Sterritt will begin her duties there in July.
Doran most recently served as the national program director of the New England Board of Higher Education in Boston and as entrepreneur in residence at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Salem has about 1,100 students.





Lawyers: Accusing voters of felonies protected, not libel

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A group and a law firm that helped former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory fight a last-ditch campaign to disqualify votes and win re-election want to discard a lawsuit by voters who say they were libeled after the 2016 election.
A trial judge in Raleigh heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit by four voters who claim the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund, the law firm and four attorneys should be punished for wrongly accusing them of felony crimes.
An attorney for the McCrory fund says the claims accusing certain people voted twice or were ineligible as felons are protected as part the ballot counting process.
McCrory fund attorney Philip Isley says he hasn’t found any similar class-action lawsuit by voters alleging they were defamed anywhere in the country.





2 agencies reach settlement on homeowners’ insurance rate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Homeowners’ insurance rates in North Carolina are headed for an average increase of nearly 5 percent.
The state Department of Insurance and the North Carolina Rate Bureau announced Wednesday they have agreed on a 4.8 percent increase statewide. The Rate Bureau wanted an 18.7 percent rate increase.
The increase will vary according to territory with a cap of 5.5 percent statewide instead of the 25 percent increase for coastal homes proposed by the Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies. Coverage on a $200,000 frame home on the Outer Banks will see an average $10 per month increase.
The agreement also covers insurance for tenants and condominiums, which is capped at 12 percent.
The last homeowners’ insurance rate increase was in 2012, when the rate climbed 7 percent.





North Carolina chancellor named in lawsuit over SUV buy

(Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina university chancellor is being sued by a former vice chancellor who said he was fired for questioning a $70,000 SUV purchase.
WRAL-TV in Raleigh reports the lawsuit by Benjamin Durant, former vice chancellor for administration and finance, named N.C. Central Chancellor Johnson Akinleye.
The state confirmed that university funds were used to purchase a GMC Yukon Denali, which the state Department of Administration said was sold at auction. The lawsuit says Akinleye was dissatisfied with a new Nissan Pathfinder provided for him last summer.
The lawsuit also accused Akinleye and two members of the UNC Board of Governors of trying to steer a $90 million student housing contract toward a specific vendor.
N.C. Central issued a statement saying the school will defend the allegations in court.





Georgia publisher named new leader at The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A Georgia publisher has been named the new publisher for The Charlotte Observer.
The North Carolina newspaper announced Wednesday that Rodney Mahone will leave his job as regional president and publisher for the McClatchy-owned Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and The (Macon) Telegraph in Georgia.
Mahone will replace Ann Caulkins, who is stepping down from The Charlotte Observer after 12 years.
Mahone will also serve as publisher for four other McClatchy newspapers in South Carolina: The (Rock Hill) Herald, The Beaufort Gazette, The (Hilton Head) Island Packet and The State in Columbia.
Mahone rose to his current job through The Columbus, Georgia, newspaper’s advertising division. He will be The Charlotte Observer’s first African-American publisher.





North Carolina man indicted for stealing pension checks

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials say a North Carolina grand jury has indicted a man who they say kept his mother’s pension payments 15 years after her death.
The N.C. Department of the State Treasurer said in a news release Wednesday Ben Hamilton Colvard III was indicted by a Wake County grand jury on Tuesday for knowingly obtaining property by false pretenses.
According to the department, Colvard’s mother was a retired state worker who died in 2001. The department said Colvard dropped her name from their joint checking account. Her benefits were supposed to end that March, but the indictment said the state continued making payments totaling $266,747 through April 2016.
If convicted, Colvard could be sentenced to between 44 and 182 months in prison. It’s not known if he has an attorney.