Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
N.C. session marked by empty seats, stay-home opponents
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly began its annual session by turning immediately to legislation to distribute COVID-19 federal relief funds amid unprecedented operating rules with social distancing in mind. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger gaveled in their floor sessions on Tuesday with only a few dozen legislators in attendance. The chambers hope to pass legislation addressing the coronavirus by the end of the week. Hundreds of demonstrators angry with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s extended statewide stay-at-home order greeted lawmakers while rallying for the third Tuesday in a row. They expressed their grievances in front of the Legislative Building.
Flyers stoke debate over reopening the Outer Banks
MANTEO, N.C. (AP) – A flyer that’s being place on parked cars along part of North Carolina’s coast is telling visitors to go home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that the message is emblematic of an ongoing debate over the value of stay-at-home orders and the need to restart the crucial tourist economy on the Outer Banks. The flyer that’s been distributed in Dare County said: “Stop being so selfish and ignorant about this.” Dare County rebuked the sentiment in a statement. The county plans to allow nonresident property owners to come back on Monday.
Judge denies release of former FBI agent convicted of murder
LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A former FBI agent who was convicted of murdering his son in law in North Carolina will not get to leave prison because of the risk of getting coronavirus. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a judge denied the request on Tuesday. Thomas Michael Martens was convicted of murdering son-in-law Jason Corbett in 2017. Martens’ attorneys argued that the 70-year-old was at great risk of contracting COVID-19 at a state prison where he’s serving up to 25 years. Judge Mark Klass of Davidson Superior Court denied Martens’ request after hearing arguments in court.
Students sue universities in North Carolina for tuition
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – College students in North Carolina are suing universities in hopes of getting reimbursements for tuition and fees after campuses shut down and moved classes online during the coronavirus pandemic. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday that the institutions that are being sued include schools in the University of North Carolina system as well as East Carolina University. Students say in the lawsuits that universities made the right decision to shutdown classes. But they claim that they were deprived of a college experience that includes in-person instruction, access to campus facilities and student activities.
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION-GRANT
2020 GOP convention host city accepts grant amid virus fears
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina city slated to host the Republican National Convention has voted to accept a $50 million grant for security-related costs, despite concerns the event may not proceed as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic. Charlotte’s city council voted 6-5 Monday to accept the federal medical services funding for the convention. The event is expected to draw 50,000 people from Aug. 24-27 and some councilors expressed concern that it could lead to new outbreaks. Other officials argued Charlotte was obligated to host the convention regardless of accepting the money. The Republican National Convention’s leadership has said the event is set to move forward.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-STRAWBERRY FARM
Pick-your-own farm closes after positive COVID-19 tests
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A pick-your-own strawberry farm in North Carolina has temporarily closed after laboratory tests confirmed eight workers tested positive for coronavirus. Rudd Farm said on its Facebook page that it took preventative measures, including having workers wear gloves and masks and using a drive-through service to maintain social distancing. According to the post, one worker said he felt sick and tested positive, and several other workers also tested positive for COVID-19. The News & Record of Greensboro reported that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed eight cases linked to on-site housing for farm workers.
TOLEDO UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
University of Toledo president leaving for NC-Charlotte post
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – The president of the University of Toledo is leaving to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Sharon Gaber announced her plans to resign Tuesday. Her departure date from Toledo is still being negotiated, but she’s scheduled to start her new job on July 1 with a salary of $525,000. Gaber became president at the University of Toledo in July 2015 and received a three-year contract extension in 2018. University officials praised her accomplishments, crediting her for increasing student retention and graduation rates, strengthened research efforts, and adding added training programs aimed at diversity, inclusion, and sexual assault awareness.
HOUSE FIRE-BODY FOUND
One person found dead after Fayetteville house fire
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Firefighters in North Carolina say one person has died in a house fire. News sources report the Fayetteville Fire Department said firefighters responded to a call just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday that a person was trapped in a fire at a one-story home. The report indicated smoke and flames were coming from the home. When firefighters entered the home to battle the blaze, they found the victim and removed them from inside. The victim’s identity hasn’t been released, and an investigation into the fire is underway.