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September 23, 2020
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September 23, 2020
AP-NC Newswatch



Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment 



Supreme Court vacancy looms large in 2nd NC Senate debate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The timing of a presidential pick for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor hung heavy over the second debate in a U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. Republican incumbent Thom Tillis said in Tuesday’s debate that he supports a swift process toward a new conservative on the Supreme Court. But Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham urged a delay until the next presidential term and accused Tillis of giving “a blank check to the president.” Tillis repeated several times that a Joe Biden presidency would bring “radical left” judges, eroding gun rights. Trump said he would announce his confirmation choice on Saturday.



North Carolina board agrees to more absentee ballot changes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina election officials have agreed that mail-in absentee ballots returned with deficient information this fall can be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot. The change announced Tuesday, if it stands, would likely yield an upward tick in the number of counted ballots in this presidential battleground state. The changes are contained in an agreement filed Tuesday in court with a union-affiliated group that sued over absentee ballot rules. Nearly 1 million absentee ballots already have been requested. A Democratic lawyer involved in absentee ballot litigation praised the decision. Republican legislators blasted the changes and were considering legal options.



NC governor: Outdoor venues could reopen at reduced capacity
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says large outdoor venues could soon reopen at significantly reduced capacity as part of a move closer to a Phase 3 reopening. Cooper, a Democrat, plans to ease other Phase 2 restrictions in addition to entertainment venues when his current executive order expires on Oct. 2, he said at a news conference Tuesday. Places that can seat more than 10,000 people outside would be able to operate at 7% capacity while adhering to social distancing guidelines. If the state’s COVID-19 trends remain steady or improve, sports teams like the Carolina Panthers could host several thousand fans that are masked and kept physically distant.



2 killed in fire at North Carolina paper packaging mill
CANTON, N.C. (AP) – Two people were killed when a paper packaging mill caught fire in North Carolina. The manager of the mill in Canton said two contract workers who were repairing a tank at the Evergreen Packaging plant died when the fire broke out at the facility early Monday. Authorities didn’t identify the victims. Officials said the Canton Fire Department responded and extinguished the blaze later that morning. The manager said the mill was cooperating with police, the fire department and regulatory agencies in the investigation. The mill is about 20 miles west of Asheville and employs about 1,000 people.



Highway Patrol search for dog whose owner died in wreck
HICKORY, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is searching for a dog who was riding with his new owner when she died in a traffic accident. WLOS reports 47-year-old Sarah Ann McKinney of Asheville was killed Monday when she lost control of her SUV, which struck the guardrail in the median and came to rest in the opposite lane. The patrol says her SUV was then hit by another vehicle. Troopers believe McKinney survived the initial crash but died in the head-on collision. McKinney’s family said she was driving with an 8-month-old dog she had adopted last week.



Wake Forest optimistic for semester; Elon heightens alert
As one North Carolina university heightens its alert level in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases, another school expects its students will be able to remain on campus well into the fall. The News & Record of Greensboro reports Elon University raised its alert level to high on Monday after 32 positive tests among students were reported last Friday and 20 more positive tests were reported over the weekend. At Wake Forest University, President Nathan Hatch sent a letter to faculty and staff saying he is confident that students will be able to remain on the Winston-Salem campus through Thanksgiving.



Maurice Jennings, founder of Biscuitville, dies at 86
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Maurice Jennings, the founder of the fast-food breakfast chain Biscuitville, has died at the age of 86. Executive consultant Al Lineberry Jr. of Hanes Lineberry Funeral Home in Greensboro confirmed on Tuesday that Jennings died last Saturday at a Greensboro retirement home of natural causes. After the former flour broker opened two stores in Burlington in 1966, Jennings opened several pizza restaurants the next year, eventually expanding it to include biscuits in the morning in 1975. The 63-restaurant Biscuitville chain stretches from Lynchburg, Virginia, and throughout North Carolina. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.



Senate GOP plans vote on Trump’s court pick before election
WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Republicans are charging ahead with plans to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to quickly fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. One possible holdout, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, said Tuesday he supports holding a vote. Trump is set to announce his nominee Saturday. Appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett is considered the favorite. Conservatives are pushing for action before Election Day, Nov. 3. Democrats say it’s too close to the election and say whoever wins the presidency should pick the court nominee. Confirmation proceedings will touch off a wrenching debate even as early voting for president is underway in several states.



AP-WF-09-23-20 1020GMT