Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
NORTH CAROLINA UNEMPLOYMENT
N. Carolina 4.5 percent jobless rate unchanged 6 for months
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – It’s more of the same for North Carolina’s unemployment rate.
The state Commerce Department reported Friday the state’s jobless rate was 4.5 percent in March, above the nationwide rate of 4.1 percent.
That’s the sixth straight month both the state and national unemployment rate have been stuck in the same place.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that North Carolina payrolls added more than 73,000 jobs in the year ending in March. That 1.7 percent addition to 4.47 million non-farm workers is among the best in the country, though still well off the red-hot rate of much smaller states of Idaho, Utah and Nevada.
North Carolina’s job growth in the past year was led by business services, education and health care jobs, and the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
Bernie Sanders in North Carolina calls for “moral economy”
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has told a North Carolina audience that the nation needs a “moral economy.”
Sanders’ visit Thursday night to Duke University in Durham included his usual push for free college, universal health care and a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Sanders had pushed those same ideas in his unsuccessful Democratic president campaign in 2016.
He said people should be able to live with dignity and security in the wealthiest nation in the world.
Sanders appeared with the Rev. William Barber II, former head of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Monday protest movement in Raleigh.
Barber is fighting against racism, economic inequality and for morality as national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach.
Pence visiting North Carolina campaigning for GOP, tax law
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence is coming to North Carolina for some Republican fundraising and promoting President Trump’s tax overhaul law.
Pence is slated to arrive late Friday morning in Greensboro. There he’ll make an appearance at a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who is seeking a third term this fall and leads the conservative Republican Study Committee caucus on Capitol Hill.
Later the vice president heads to Charlotte and an event sponsored by a nonprofit group backing Trump’s agenda. He’ll speak at the America First Policies gathering to talk about the overhaul law’s tax cuts. Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Robert Pittenger and others will participate.
Pence’s office says he’ll then attend a Republican National Committee event. The Walker and RNC events are private.
NC Highway Patrol joins effort to reduce wrecks on I-95
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Highway Patrol is joining a multi-state effort to reduce wrecks along the Interstate 95 corridor.
The Drive to Save Lives Campaign is a two-day effort supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and eastern states. The campaign is intended to increase visibility of law enforcement.
The campaign begins Friday and continues on Saturday.
In 2014, the IACP initiated an effort to significantly reduce highway deaths. The goal of the initiative was to change the high-risk behaviors of motorists in order to decrease the number of crashes through education and awareness, partnerships, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.
North Carolina commission says leave bats alone until July
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is striking a blow for bat motherhood, telling homeowners not to run bats out of their house before the end of July.
The commission says between May and June, female bats are raising their young and the bat pups need their mothers to survive during their early weeks. If homeowners seal holes or use devices to get rid of the bats, female bats will not be able to get to their young after a night of feeding, and the young bats will starve to death.
If any bats are sealed inside, including pups that cannot fly, they will search for a way out and will die inside the house, or find their way into the living space in the home.
GANG MEMBER-FIREARMS CASE
North Carolina gang member sentenced in weapons case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal prosecutor says a North Carolina gang member has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after stolen guns were found at his home.
U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. said in a news release Thursday 26-year-old Rashem Santa Perry of Ahoskie was sentenced after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms.
Perry was identified as a high-ranking member of the United Blood Nation. According to Higdon, an Ahoskie police informant bought a .22-caliber rifle and some marijuana from someone at Perry’s home last May.
Officers executing a search warrant at Perry’s home said he was found running from a bedroom. A search turned up an AR-15 rifle, a partially loaded magazine and a .40-caliber handgun. The weapons had been reported stolen from a local gun shop.
Cooper unveils school safety, mental health recommendations
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wants legislators to set aside tens of millions of dollars for public school and college building safety improvements and millions more for school-based counselors, psychologists and police officers.
Cooper announced Thursday at an Orange County high school what he will include in his state budget proposal for school safety and youth mental health services. Those areas have gained attention since 17 people died in a Florida school shooting in February.
The General Assembly returns next month to adjust the second year of the current two-year spending plan. Republican leaders are debating their own safety improvements in study committees, with hiring more officers and psychologists getting attention.
The Democratic governor previously urged lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun laws. GOP legislators are unlikely to do so.
NC prison workers usually escape time for on-the-job crimes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina prison officials say more than nine out of 10 state prison workers charged with smuggling drugs and cellphones or committing other crimes behind bars escaped prison time.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the state Department of Public Safety found just four of the 57 prison employees charged with crimes between 2013 and 2017 landed behind bars themselves. Prosecutors dropped cases about 60 percent of the time. More than half of the workers charged got probation.
Providing drugs or cellphones to inmates are low-level felonies in North Carolina, so relatively clean criminal records can mean probation rather than prison time.
An example was the six months’ probation prison worker Kendra Miller got after being charged with helping a convicted murderer escape in 2015 from an Anson County prison.