AP-NC Newswatch

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September 18, 2020
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September 18, 2020
AP-NC Newswatch



Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment 



In N. Carolina Senate race, Tillis calibrates ties to Trump
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis is calibrating his ties to President Donald Trump as he tries to find the right path for reelection in a closely divided state. The Republican senator is in a close race with Democrat Cal Cunningham. Trump is beloved by die-hard conservatives but brings discomfort to many moderates. Tillis hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with Trump on wearing masks during the pandemic. He also disagreed with Trump’s emergency order to fund a U.S.-Mexico wall but later reversed his position. Cunningham says Tillis has given in too often to Washington power brokers. Tillis says he supports the president but argues the race is about him and Cunningham.



Permit for water treatment system issued for Chemours site
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality has issued a permit for a water treatment system at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site to remove so-called forever chemicals from a contaminated stream. The department said in a press release on Friday that the stream flows into the Cape Fear River. The system is required to remove at least 99% of PFAS from the stream and be operational by September 30. PFAS are used to make many consumer and industrial products. They’re known as “forever chemicals” because they are slow to break down. Researchers say they’re a threat to human health.



UNC system sees record enrollment despite pandemic
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Schools in the University of North Carolina system enrolled more students than ever before this fall. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Thursday that half of the campuses reported record-breaking numbers of students. It’s the system’s third year in a row for record-high enrollment. More than 242,000 students are at its universities. There was an overall increase of 1% for the total number of undergraduate and graduate students. The news came at the system’s Board of Governors meeting on Thursday. UNC System President Peter Hans said the enrollment numbers are remarkable given the coronavirus pandemic. Hans said he believes that schools re-opening with in-person classes and campus housing helped with the enrollment growth.



N.C. elementary schools may offer full in-person classes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina elementary schools will soon be allowed to return to daily, in-person classes under a plan announced by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The decision on whether to return to full in-person instruction will be left up to individual districts. Those choosing to go forward with the Plan A reopening option starting on Oct. 5 won’t be limited in the number of students who can be inside a classroom. They would, however, be required to screen kids for coronavirus symptoms, make sure they wear face coverings and offer remote options for parents concerned about their kids bringing the virus back home.



Missing North Carolina man’s body found in Virginia
CHATHAM, Va. (AP) – A Virginia man has been charged with murder after authorities in southside Virginia found the body of a North Carolina man who went missing over the weekend after he tried to sell his Range Rover. Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, say they are investigating the disappearance of William Anderson “Andy” Banks, 39, of Raleigh, as a homicide. On Thursday news outlets reported that Justin Fernando Merritt of Danville, Virginia, was charged with Banks’ murder. Merritt, who had arranged to buy Banks’ SUV, had already been arrested and charged with crimes related to the theft of the vehicle. On Thursday Raleigh Police said they believe Banks’ body was recovered by the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.



Indictment: city illegally dug up lead-laden soil from range
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The public works director of a North Carolina city has been indicted in federal court on charges his department illegally transported hazardous waste from the city’s shooting range. Federal prosecutors in Charlotte say David Lutz, 64, of Pisgah Forest, illegally had his workers dig up and transport 20 truckloads of soil contaminated with lead from the city firing range in the city of Brevard. The indictment also alleges the contaminated soil was illegally stored in an operations center that was not approved for storage of hazardous waste. The indictment, announced Thursday, says the violations occurred in 2016. Lutz’s lawyer said his client will plead not guilty and has received an outpouring of support from the community.



School board keeps class virtual despite in-person proposal
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina school board has voted to keep classes virtual through the rest of 2020 despite its superintendent’s recommendation to start in-person learning next month. News outlets report the Cumberland County Board of Education voted 6-3 Thursday to keep classes online. Under the plan from Superintendent Marvin Connelly, students would have begun two days of in-person instruction on Oct. 19. Families that opted for fully online classes would have had that option. Connelly said metrics of coronavirus cases in the county allowed for the resumption of live schooling. The school system, which serves the area surrounding Fayetteville, has had 67 employees test positive for coronavirus since school began.



Rescuers reach people cut off by Gulf Coast hurricane
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) – Hurricane Sally left some people on the Gulf Coast cut off by floodwaters until they could be rescued by teams in boats and high-water vehicles. Crews were pulling people out of flooded areas Thursday near Pensacola, Florida, while Alabama National Guard troops helped people evacuate near Mobile Bay. Homeowners and businesses along the soggy Gulf Coast were cleaning up, even as a second round of flooding took shape along rivers and creeks swollen by the storm’s heavy rains. Sally has been blamed for at least one death, in Alabama.



AP-WF-09-18-20 1520GMT