Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Judge weighs N.C. voting rule change demand with COVID-19
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A judge is listening to arguments this week about whether the COVID-19 pandemic demands changes to North Carolina’s voting systems this fall. U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled a hearing starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. The plaintiffs want Osteen to block several voting restrictions now. A new state law already eases absentee ballot rules and directs that an online portal be created to file applications. Similar virus-related voting lawsuits have been filed in North Carolina and other states.
Former police headquarters vandalized, 23 arrested
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested 23 people after a former police headquarters was vandalized. Durham Police said those arrested are being charged with felonies for inciting a riot after vandalizing the city’s old police headquarters Saturday evening. Police said officers told the crowd to disperse but many people refused to leave. Police said there were broken windows, damaged furniture and graffiti spray painted on several floors of the building. Police said a man was assaulted by the crowd, including being thrown to the ground and kicked several times.
BC-NC-MOTORCYCLE HIT AND RUN
Police: motorcyclist killed in hit and run
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a motorcyclist was killed in a hit and run. Durham police said a motorcycle driven by Raekwon Nixon, 24, collided with a vehicle as it was making a left turn Saturday evening. Nixon was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. Police said the driver of the vehicle, Amado Lopez, allegedly fled the scene of the crash and surrendered a short time later. Police said Lopez is facing a felony hit-and-run charge.
Charges made related to death of toddler
SILER, N.C. (AP) – Police have charged two people in North Carolina with killing a 3-year-old boy. Tricia Ann Bissett, 33, and Judson Sier Dunnavant, 38, were charged with first-degree murder and other felony child abuse charges, news outlets reported. The Siler City Police Department said Saturday the charges are related to the death of Evan Preston Marrero, a toddler who died last year. Police said the pair are being held without bond.
Vegas-like casino near Charlotte to have groundbreaking
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for a new Vegas-style casino near Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer reports that Catawba Indians plan to break ground next week on a $300 million casino about 35 miles from the city. The Catawbas plan to open the casino next year. The South Carolina-based tribe has been trying for several years to build a casino in North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokees, who operate casinos in western North Carolina, are opposing the Catawba Indians’ effort to build a casino and have filed a lawsuit.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-EARLY VOTING
N.C. elections order could mean more early voting sites
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top elections administrator has ordered counties to open a minimum number of early in-person voting sites this fall to buttress ballot access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those sites also have to be open on otherwise optional voting weekends. State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell cited her emergency powers in announcing changes Friday. The order also tells election workers that while they’ll have to wear face coverings at voting centers and Election Day precincts in November, voters won’t be required to do so. A key Senate Republican and liberal-leaning election advocacy groups criticized the order for different reasons.
Craven appointed to fill out Tillman’s term in N.C. Senate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A banking executive has been appointed to the North Carolina Senate to complete the term of retired Sen. Jerry Tillman. Gov. Roy Cooper formally named Dave Craven on Friday to fill out the seat that Tillman vacated on June 30. State law obligated Cooper to appoint Craven, since he was the choice of Republican activists in Tillman’s district covering all of Randolph County and part of Guilford County. A Republican leader says Craven also will replace Tillman as the party’s candidate for the seat in November.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina unemployment rate falls to 7.6% in June
RALEIGH, N.C . (AP) – North Carolina’s jobless rate declined dramatically in June as restaurants, hotels and retailers bounced back since Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 restrictions were eased. The state announced on Friday that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment fell from 12.8% in May to 7.6% in June. The number of people on the job grew by 227,500. Cooper ended his stay-at-home order in late May, allowing restaurants to serve indoors again, albeit at partial capacity. Bars, gyms, movie theater and entertainment venues still have to stay closed. The nation’s unemployment rate was just over 11% last month.