Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Big N. Carolina utilities told to stop disconnections longer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina regulators have told the state’s big for-profit electric, natural gas and water utilities to keep delaying disconnections through August as customers still struggle financially from COVID-19. The state Utilities Commission issued an order late Wednesday, the same day a provision expired in Gov. Roy Cooper’s separate executive order that prevented shutoffs for all residential customers. The expiration meant local governments and cooperatives could resume disconnections, but the commission wrote to say for-profit companies like Duke Energy and Dominion Energy must wait until at least Sept. 1. Unpaid utility bill expenses statewide at the end of June were at least $258 million.
PROTECTED CORAL-MAN CITED
Officials: Man cited for taking federally protected coral
KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) – Authorities say a North Carolina man visiting the Florida Keys stole large pieces of federally protected coral. The Miami Herald reports that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers responded Wednesday night to a Key Largo condominium complex and issued the man a notice to appear in court for violating the Endangered Species Act. FWC investigators had been tipped off that someone had coral out on a balcony at the Landings of Largo. Officers identified it as staghorn coral. The man told officers he was in the Keys for the two-day lobster miniseason, which ended Thursday night.
Panel approves model of Billy Graham statue for US Capitol
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina legislative committee has approved a model of a statue honoring the late Rev. Billy Graham to represent the state in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. The Charlotte Observer reports the Legislature’s selection committee approved the model Wednesday. Graham’s statue would replace one of former governor and white supremacist Charles Aycock. Each state is allowed two statues. Aycock’s has represented North Carolina for nearly 90 years, but representatives have called for it to be removed, along with the state’s other statue of Zebulon B. Vance, a former governor and Confederate military officer. A congressional committee will hold a final vote on the model of Graham.
COVID patient didn’t recognize body after double transplant
CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago woman who last month became the nation’s first COVID-19 patient to undergo a double lung transplant says she woke up days later, unaware about the surgery and unable to “recognize my body.” Mayra Ramirez said that before she fell ill she was an independent, active person who moved from North Carolina to Chicago in 2014 to work as a paralegal. Ramirez, 28, underwent the lung transplant on June 5 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She didn’t wake up until mid-June. She spoke to the media Thursday alongside Brian Kuhns, 62, of Lake Zurich, Illinois, who followed her as the second U.S. coronavirus patient to undergo a double transplant.
POLICE CHASE-OFFICER INJURED
North Carolina police chase leads to crashes, officer hurt
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a man trying to elude capture led officers on a chase that included three crashes, a stolen police car and and officer being dragged. The Charlotte Observer reports Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the series of events covered just under a half-hour on Wednesday, beginning with reports of an armed robbery in Gastonia. Police said the chase was initially called off when the driver began driving the wrong way in traffic. After crashing his car on Interstate 77, the man encountered a police officer who he overpowered before stealing the officer’s car and crashing it as well.
DOT: Top executive’s departure unrelated to treasurer’s call
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation says the departure of its chief operating officer has nothing to do with State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s call to replace him. The DOT says Chief Operating Officer Bobby Lewis’ last day is Friday. An agency spokesperson says Lewis submitted his resignation letter nine days before Folwell announced July 15 he wanted the chief operating officer and chief financial officer removed from their jobs. DOT spokeperson Jamie Kritzer says Folwell hadn’t communicated with anyone at the department before distributing his news release. The current chief financial officer remains on the job.
BC-NC-LIGHTHOUSE BREAK IN
Park service says group broke into lighthouse for the view
HARKERS ISLAND, N.C. (AP) – The National Park Service says a group of young people broke into a lighthouse on North Carolina’s southern Outer Banks seemingly for the view. The Charlotte Observer reports that the alleged break-in occurred early Monday morning at the historic Cape Lookout Lighthouse. áAuthorities said the five suspects “in their late teens or early twenties” reached the island by boat. They then crept up to the lighthouse door and used tools to get inside. Cape Lookout Public Information Officer B.G. Horvat told McClatchy News that the group made it to the top and seemed to be breaking in for the view. The group admitted their guilt and were issued citations.
RADIO SHOW HOST-DAUGHTER-DEAD
North Carolina radio show host’s daughter killed in crash
MORRESVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The daughter of a radio show host in North Carolina has died in a car crash. News outlets report 21-year-old Payton Alizabeth Cannon was killed just after midnight Wednesday when her car veered off a road in Mooresville and hit a tree. Cannon’s father is David Cannon. He is known as Ace in “Ace & TJ,” a syndicated morning radio show that airs in Charlotte. The show said on Facebook that they have experienced a heart wrenching blow. A sergeant with the state highway patrol told The Charlotte Observer it’s believed Payton Cannon was traveling at about 80 mph during the crash. The official said the speed limit on the road was 45 mph.