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N. Carolina student charged with assaulting school employees
HOLLY RIDGE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina high school student has been charged with assaulting school employees.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office tells media outlets 18-year-old Durvell Walker of Maple Hill was arrested Thursday and charged with crimes including assault on school employees and possession of a weapon on school property.
Sheriff’s Maj. Chris Thomas says Dixon High School officials suspected Walker had a weapon at school. When officials tried to search Walker’s bag, Thomas says the student swung a weight rack at Principal Steven Clarke and five other employees.
He says a school resource officer used pepper spray to try to contain Walker. Authorities say he had a knife in his backpack.
Walker was jailed on $9,000 bond, and it wasn’t known if he had an attorney.
BOY SWEPT TO SEA
Crews seek signs of boy swept to sea from N. Carolina beach
KITTY HAWK, N.C. (AP) – Rescue efforts have transitioned to recovery as authorities search for signs of a four-year-old boy they say was swept out to sea while walking with his mother on a North Carolina beach.
A heart-shaped seashell memorial began to form Thursday on a Kitty Hawk beach. That’s where the U.S. Coast Guard says the boy and his mother were walking Wednesday afternoon when a wave hit the boy, carrying him out into the ocean.
Officials say the mother lost sight of her son as he went further from the shore. Police say the family was vacationing from New Hampshire, and the boy was their only child.
Crews combed 130 square miles before suspending their search Wednesday night. Now, local officials and some volunteers continue to look for signs of the boy.
DURHAM SHOOTING DEATH
1 arrested in shooting death at home in North Carolina
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say one man is in custody after an overnight shooting at a North Carolina home.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office tells local media outlets that officers were called at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday about a possible home invasion in Durham.
When deputies arrived, they found a person dead from an apparent gunshot wound. After a witness said that the suspect could still be nearby, officers searched the area and arrested a man.
Authorities haven’t identified the victim or the suspect. No other details about the incident have been released.
Jury hits pork giant for $50M for hog operation’s nuisance
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal jury in North Carolina is awarding more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation responsible for smells, noise and other disturbances so bad they couldn’t enjoy their rural homes.
Jurors on Thursday awarded 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation a total of $750,000 in compensation plus $50 million in damages designed to punish the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods.
Lawyers didn’t sue the farm’s owner, instead targeting the Chinese-owned corporation. Smithfield uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock the company owns.
The decision is the first in dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed by more than 500 neighbors against hog operations.
Smithfield says the lawsuits are a serious threat to a major agricultural industry and employer in North Carolina.
Water exec: Uncertain mix of chemicals from consumer taps
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A public water utility that studied what it was serving its 200,000 North Carolina customers is finding a soup of unregulated industrial chemicals with uncertain health effects, including some that university researchers didn’t know existed.
State legislators heard Thursday from chemists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the top executive of the area’s main water utility as they try to cope with rising concern about the prevalence of untested chemicals in drinking water.
Jim Flechtner of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the chemical GenX found in drinking water is now in a range health officials think should be safe. But GenX is just 14 percent of the concerning compounds being addressed, while about 20 different related chemicals combined push the water question into unknown territory.
Cooper seeks federal help for 2 North Carolina counties
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has asked for a federal disaster declaration for two central North Carolina counties where hundreds of buildings were damaged as a confirmed tornado touched down this month.
Cooper said Thursday he wrote President Donald Trump this week seeking the designation for Guilford and Rockingham counties for the April 15 storm. He wants the declaration that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer low-interest loans and grants to homeowners, renters and business owners.
Cooper’s office says damage assessments found 36 Guilford County homes and businesses were destroyed and 180 sustained major damage. In Rockingham County, there were five homes or businesses destroyed and seven with major damage. One storm-related death occurred in Guilford County.
Vice President Mike Pence visited Guilford County storm recovery efforts last week.
North Carolina tax agency duplicated thousands of payments
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s tax collectors are refunding money to thousands of taxpayers whose electronic payments were wrongly subtracted twice from their bank accounts.
The Department of Revenue said Thursday the error happened because a high volume of 2017 payments were being made around last week’s filing deadline. But the agency says the roughly 6,400 taxpayers affected were making payments for earlier tax years, such as on installment plans.
Department spokesman Schorr Johnson says the taxpayers are being contacted about the problem and duplicate payments are being refunded. The department also will reimburse overdraft fees such a payment could have caused.
The department says 629,000 tax payments were submitted to the state last week.
North Carolina county begins collecting abandoned boats
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
BOLIVIA, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina county has begun its effort to rid its waterways of abandoned boats.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports Brunswick County commissioners adopted an ordinance last year addressing the problem. The sheriff’s office has posted warnings on boats believed to be abandoned and tracking down the owners.
Maj. Tommy Tolley said the sheriff’s office is trying to work with the boat owners, but they haven’t put forth an effort to save the boats.
On Thursday, the sheriff’s office held an auction for a 1981 Catalina sailboat and a 1976 AMF Paceship. Authorities couldn’t reach the owners, making them the first to go up for auction. No one showed up to bid on the boats, so they were hauled away to the county landfill, where they will be destroyed.